Cognitive aging and dementia – is it inevitable?

Cognitive aging in the brain affects all of us, and is the focus of a new thematic series launched in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.

Aging can be associated with relatively little cognitive decline. But for some, it can lead to mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or cause a severe loss in cognitive function and result in dementia. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia in older people and is characterized by behavioural disorders and a progressive decline in memory function.

In recent decades, there have been significant advances in our understanding of cognitive aging, but little advance in translating this knowledge into therapeutics. The AD epidemic is a looming crisis and there is an urgent need for new therapies to delay or prevent symptom onset and progression.

In the launch of a thematic series on ‘Cognitive Enhancers for Aging and Alzheimer’s disease’, guest edited by Dr Howard Fillit (ADDF, USA), new approaches to drug discovery and development for therapeutics to treat cognitive aging are presented.

María Javier Ramírez (University of Navarra, Spain) opens the series reviewing evidence supporting the cognitive effects of 5-HT6 receptor compounds. The 5-HT6 receptor is involved in affective disorders, anxiety and depression, epilepsy, and obesity. The receptor also has a role in learning and memory processes so there is significant interest in the potential of 5-HT6-targeted compounds as powerful therapeutic candidates in AD.

In a second article, Allan Levey (Emory University, USA) and colleagues discuss treatments that target norepinephrine in MCI and AD. Increasing norepinephrine transmission may have the potential to delay or reverse AD-related pathology, especially if novel noradrenergic-based therapies are initiated during MCI. Evidence for noradrenergic-based therapies is reviewed, as well as the promising results seen in animal models of AD and the potential of translating this to early-phase clinical trials in humans.

This special series will present a collection of commissioned reviews and opinions written by leaders in the field. Upcoming contributors include Jerri Rook (Vanderbilt University), Amy Arnsten (Yale), Gerhard Koenig (En Vivo Pharmaceuticals) and Joseph Coyle (Harvard).

We also welcome research manuscripts that present new therapeutic approaches in the field of cognitive aging.

If you would like to enquire about the suitability of a study for consideration, please email Otherwise please submit online and indicate in your covering letter that you would like the article to be considered for the cognitive enhancers series.

For further information about the journal, please visit the website, or contact us for enquires about the special series. To access all subscription content; including peer-reviewed reviews, commentaries and viewpoints, register for a free online trial to the journal and sign up for article alerts.

View the latest posts on the On Medicine homepage