Time to Response to Citalopram Treatment for Agitation in Alzheimer Disease

CitAD Research Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Agitation is a common and significant problem in Alzheimer disease (AD). In the recent Citalopram for Agitation in Alzheimer's Disease (CitAD) study, citalopram was efficacious for the treatment of AD agitation. Here we examined the time course and predictors of response to treatment. Methods Response in CitAD was defined as a modified Alzheimer Disease Cooperative Study Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC) score of 1 or 2 or a Neurobehavioral Rating Scale agitation subscale (NBRS-A) score reduction ≥ 50% from baseline. "Stable early response" was defined as meeting the aforementioned criteria at both weeks 3 and 9, "late response" was response at week 9 but not at week 3, and "unstable response" was response at week 3 but not at week 9. Results In the primary analyses, citalopram was superior to placebo on both the CGIC and the NBRS-A response measures. Little between-group differences were found in response rates in the first 3 weeks of the study (21% versus 19% on the CGIC). Citalopram patients were more likely than placebo patients to be a late responder (18% versus 8% on CGIC, Fisher's exact p = 0.09; 31% versus 15% on NBRS-A, Fisher's exact p = 0.02). Approximately half of citalopram responders (45%-56%) at end of study achieved response later in the study compared with 30%-44% of placebo responders. Conclusion Treatment with citalopram for agitation in AD needs to be at least 9 weeks in duration to allow sufficient time for full response. Study duration is an important factor to consider in the design of clinical trials for agitation in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1127-1133
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Agitation
  • Alzheimer disease
  • citalopram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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