How is frontotemporal dementia (FTD) treated?

Updated: Jun 14, 2018
  • Author: Howard S Kirshner, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

To date, most efforts have concentrated on diagnosing FTD and understanding its pathogenesis. Once the abnormal gene products are better understood, specific medical treatments may emerge. At present, however, medical treatment is extremely limited.

Social interventions, counseling, and speech/language/cognitive therapy to facilitate the use of spared functions may make the condition easier to bear for the patient, caregivers, and family members. Whether behavioral interventions slow the progression of the disease remains to be proved.

All current pharmacologic treatments are unproved, but selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants and trazodone are widely recommended. [12, 13, 14] Cholinesterase inhibitors, approved for Alzheimer disease, are sometimes used in this condition, but there is no evidence that FTD involves a cholinergic deficit, and there is no clinical evidence of benefit. [15] Anecdotally, some patients may improve in terms of memory, but others seem to worsen in behavior. Likewise, the drug memantine (Namenda) has been used in FTD, but 2 recent small clinical trials failed to confirm any benefit. [16, 17] It is hoped that future breakthroughs in the molecular biology and genetics of these disorders may lead to disease-modifying treatments.


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