Alzheimer’s disease drug donepezil increases bone mass in mice, making it a potential treatment for bone loss diseases such as osteoporosis and periodontitis, according to a newly published study in the journal Heliyon.

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, bone density decreases, putting people at a higher risk of bone fractures. Treating Alzheimer’s disease with donepezil, the research suggests, not only improves cognitive function but also increases bone density, reducing the risk of fractures.

“From the viewpoint of medical economics, this dual purpose could reduce the cost of treating these diseases,” said lead author Tsuyoshi Sato, associate professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Saitama Medical University, Japan. Research in humans is needed, he added. The team plans to work on clinical research with members of the university’s Department of Neurology.