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Dose-dependent retrograde facilitation of verbal memory in healthy elderly after acute oral lorazepam administration.

Author(s): Pomara N, Facelle TM, Roth AE, Willoughby LM, Greenblatt DJ, Sidtis JJ

Affiliation(s): Geriatric Psychiatry Program, Nathan S. Kline Institute, 140 Old Orangeburg Rd. Bldg.35, Orangeburg, NY 10962, USA. Pomara@nki.rfmh.org

Publication date & source: 2006-05, Psychopharmacology (Berl)., 185(4):487-94. Epub 2006 Mar 9.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

RATIONALE: Retrograde facilitation (RF) refers to a paradoxical phenomenon in which recall of information presented before acute administration of agents generally associated with anterograde amnestic and sedative effects, such as benzodiazepines, is enhanced relative to a placebo condition. However, it is unclear whether this effect occurs in elderly individuals and if it is influenced by plasma drug levels, baseline cognitive function, or genetic factors such as the APOE e-4 allele, that may modulate drug-induced cognitive toxicity. OBJECTIVES: To determine if acute oral doses of lorazepam (0.5 mg, 1 mg) produced RF in elderly individuals exposed to interference tasks, and the variables associated with RF. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty-four cognitively intact and highly educated (>12 years) older adults (mean age, 66.09 years) participated in a placebo-controlled double-blind crossover study. The Buschke Selective Reminding Test was used to assess RF and amnestic effects for verbal memory. Self-ratings of mood states were also obtained. RESULTS: Lorazepam administration resulted in significant dose-dependent RF, i.e., better recall of pre-drug word lists compared to placebo [F(1,63)= 15.358; p<0.001 and F(1,63)= 46.163; p<0.001 for 0.5 and 1 mg lorazepam, respectively]. Also, more of the pre-drug words were recalled in the 1.0-mg-lorazepam condition relative to the 0.5-mg-lorazepam condition [F(1,63)=29.498; p<0.001]. In both the 0.5 and 1 mg lorazepam conditions, participants who exhibited high RF experienced significantly greater lorazepam-induced memory impairments over time [F(3,61)=2.901; p<0.05; F(3,61)=2.698; p<0.05; 0.5 and 1 mg lorazepam, respectively]. Also, in the 1-mg-lorazepam condition, participants who exhibited high RF reported significantly greater drowsiness relative to participants who showed less RF [t(62)=-2.521; p<0.05]. RF was not significantly associated with age, the APOE epsilon4 allele, years of education, global cognitive status, vocabulary scores, or a memory index score. CONCLUSION: In healthy elderly, acute oral lorazepam administration resulted in dose-dependent RF, which was associated with greater anterograde amnestic and sedative effects.

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