Background – Vinpocetine is a synthetic ethyl ester of apovincamine, a vinca alkaloid obtained from the leaves of the Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) and discovered in the late 1960s. Although used in human treatment for over twenty years, it has not been approved by any regulatory body for the treatment of cognitive impairment. Basic sciences studies have been used to claim a variety of potentially important effects in the brain. However, despite these many proposed mechanisms and targets, the relevance of this basic science to clinical studies is unclear.
Positive Effects – Treatment of patients with cognitive impairment due to vascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, mixed (vascular and Alzheimer’s disease) and other dementias.
While many studies focus on the effects of vinpocetine for patients suffering from various degenerative conditions, researchers have also inquired into the effects of this agent in healthy individuals. In a German study, 40 healthy volunteers were given 40 mg of vinpocetine daily for two days. This brief course resulted in a significant improvement in memory as assessed by the Sternberg Memory Scanning Test. This study suggests that in normal, healthy people, vinpocetine can enhance memory quickly.
Side Effects – The drug seems to have few adverse effects at the doses used in the studies.
Dosage –Experimental doses: 30 mg/kg, 40 mg and 60 mg/kg
Misc. – Large studies evaluating the use of vinpocetine for people suffering from well-defined types of cognitive impairment are needed to explore possible efficacy of this treatment.
Conclusion – The evidence for beneficial effect of vinpocetine on patients with dementia is inconclusive and does not support clinical use. Vinpocetine promotes neovascularization.