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Can Nicotine Improve Depression and Alzheimer's?

We close out June as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month with reports on two studies investigating the relationship between nicotine and memory loss, and late-life depression.

The MIND study, which stands for Memory Improvement through Nicotine Dosing, began in 2017 and ends December of this year. Nicotine (without the tar and other ingredients found in tobacco products) is being used because it has been shown to improve attention, learning, and memory. In this trial, researchers are testing whether nicotine delivered via a transdermal skin patch (see image below) improves memory performance in older adults who have mild cognitive impairment. The lead sponsor for MIND is the University of Southern California. Collaborating sponsors are the National Institute on Aging, Vanderbilt University, and the Alzheimer's Therapeutic Research Institute. Read more at

In November 2020, Vanderbilt University Medical Center began recruitment for a new study to investigate the potential benefits of transdermal patches not only for cognition but also for treatment of late-life depression (LLD).

This new two-phase trial expands on their earlier small study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, which found that transdermal nicotine may improve both mood symptoms and cognitive performance in adults over age 60 with LLD.

In general, people with LLD have a higher risk of developing dementia. The study seeks to determine whether, if we treat the depression earlier, we might prevent some of the cognitive decline. Read more at

These are but two of many trials which are all seeking answers to the "big D" question: How do we prevent, diagnosis early, and treat Dementia, of which Alzheimer's is one form?

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