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To examine the interaction between structural brain volume measures derived from a clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and occurrence of neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) in outpatient memory clinic patients.
Clinical and neuroimaging data were collected from the medical records of outpatient memory clinic patients who were seen by neurologists, geriatric neuropsychiatrists, and geriatricians. MRI scan acquisition was carried out on a 3 T Siemens Verio scanner at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Image analyses used an automated multi-label atlas fusion method with a geriatric atlas inventory to generate 193 anatomical regions from which volumes were measured. Regions of interest were generated a priori based on previous literature review of NPS in dementia. Regional volumes for agitation, apathy, and delusions were carried forward in a linear regression analysis.
Seventy-two patients had clinical and usable neuroimaging data that were analyzed and grouped by Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE). Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q) agitation was inversely associated with rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) bilaterally and left subcallosal ACC volumes in the moderate severity group. Delusions were positively associated with left ACC volumes in both severe and mild groups but inversely associated with the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in the moderate subgroup.
Agitation, apathy, and delusions are associated with volumes of a priori selected brain regions using clinical data and clinically acquired MRI scans. The ACC is an anatomic region common to these symptoms, particularly agitation and delusions, which closely mirror the findings of research-quality studies and suggest its importance as a behavioral hub.
Placebo responses raise significant challenges for the design of clinical trials. We report changes in agitation outcomes in the placebo arm of a recent trial of citalopram for agitation in Alzheimer's disease (CitAD).
In the CitAD study, all participants and caregivers received a psychosocial intervention and 92 were assigned to placebo for nine weeks. Outcomes included Neurobehavioral Rating Scale agitation subscale (NBRS-A), modified AD Cooperative Study-Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC), Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI), the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) Agitation/Aggression domain (NPI A/A) and Total (NPI-Total) and ADLs. Continuous outcomes were analyzed with mixed-effects modeling and dichotomous outcomes with logistic regression.
Agitation outcomes improved over nine weeks: NBRS-A mean (SD) decreased from 7.8 (3.0) at baseline to 5.4 (3.2), CMAI from 28.7 (6.7) to 26.7 (7.4), NPI A/A from 8.0 (2.4) to 4.9 (3.8), and NPI-Total from 37.3 (17.7) to 28.4 (22.1). The proportion of CGI-C agitation responders ranged from 21 to 29% and was significantly different from zero. MMSE improved from 14.4 (6.9) to 15.7 (7.2) and ADLs similarly improved. Most of the improvement was observed by three weeks and was sustained through nine weeks. The major predictor of improvement in each agitation measure was a higher baseline score in that measure.
We observed significant placebo response which may be due to regression to the mean, response to a psychosocial intervention, natural course of symptoms, or nonspecific benefits of participation in a trial.
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