Objective Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a pre-dementia state; 5–10% of cases per year will evolve into dementia. MCI can be amnestic (AMCI) or non-amnestic. AMCI is associated with a higher risk of progression. In recent years, interest in acupuncture as a potential treatment for AMCI has grown. The aim of this meta-analysis was to estimate the clinical effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for AMCI.
Methods Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of acupuncture versus medical treatment for AMCI were identified using the following databases from inception to July 2015: PubMed; Medline; CENTRAL; Chinese Scientific Journal Database; The Chinese Acupuncture Trials Register; China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI); and Wanfang database. Data were extracted from RCTs meeting the inclusive criteria according to Cochrane methods. Meta-analyses were conducted using Rev Man V.5.3 software.
Results Five trials involving 568 subjects were included. Meta-analysis showed that participants receiving acupuncture had better outcomes than those receiving nimodipine with greater clinical efficacy rates (odds ratio (OR) 1.78, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.65; p<0.01), mini-mental state examination (MMSE) scores (mean difference (MD) 0.99, 95% CI 0.71 to 1.28; p<0.01), and picture recognition score (MD 2.12, 95% CI 1.48 to 2.75; p<0.01). Meta-analysis also showed acupuncture in conjunction with nimodipine significantly improved MMSE scores (MD 1.09, 95% CI 0.29 to 1.89; p<0.01) compared to nimodipine alone. Three trials reported adverse events. Methodological quality of the included studies was judged to be generally poor.
Conclusions Acupuncture appears effective for AMCI when used as an alternative or adjunctive treatment; however, caution must be exercised given the low methodological quality of included trials. Further, more rigorously designed studies are needed.
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