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Cognitive impairment and apathy are well-documented features of idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH). However, research examining other neuropsychiatric manifestations of iNPH is scant, and it is unknown whether the neuropsychiatric presentation differs for iNPH patients with comorbid Alzheimer’s disease (AD) versus iNPH without AD. This study aims to advance our understanding of neuropsychiatric syndromes associated with iNPH.
Fifty patients from Butler Hospital’s Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Clinic met inclusion criteria. Caregiver ratings on the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale (FrSBe) were examined to appraise changes in apathy, executive dysfunction, and disinhibition. Patients also completed cognitive tests of global cognition, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning. AD biomarker status was determined by either amyloid-beta (Aβ) positron emission tomography (PET) imaging or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) total tau to Aβ-42 ratio.
Results revealed clinically significant elevations on the FrSBe’s apathy and executive dysfunction scales and modest correlations among these scales and cognitive measures. Of the 44 patients with available neuroimaging or CSF draw data, 14 presented with comorbid AD. Relative to the iNPH-only group, the iNPH + AD group showed a larger increase from pre-illness to current informant ratings on the executive dysfunction scale, but not the apathy or disinhibition scales.
These results replicate and extend prior research by identifying apathy and executive dysfunction as prominent neuropsychiatric symptoms of iNPH and suggest comorbid AD exacerbates dysexecutive behaviors. Future research is warranted to examine the effects of comorbid AD pathology in response to shunt surgery for iNPH, neuropsychiatric symptom changes, and resultant caregiver burden.
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