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Blood biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease (AD) may allow for the early detection of AD pathology in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to AD (MCI-AD) and as a co-pathology in MCI with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB). However not all cases of MCI-LB will feature AD pathology. Disease-general biomarkers of neurodegeneration, such as glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) or neurofilament light (NfL), may therefore provide a useful supplement to AD biomarkers. We aimed to compare the relative utility of plasma Aβ42/40, p-tau181, GFAP and NfL in differentiating MCI-AD and MCI-LB from cognitively healthy older adults, and from one another.
Plasma samples were analysed for 172 participants (31 healthy controls, 48 MCI-AD, 28 possible MCI-LB and 65 probable MCI-LB) at baseline, and a subset (n = 55) who provided repeated samples after ≥1 year. Samples were analysed with a Simoa 4-plex assay for Aβ42, Aβ40, GFAP and NfL, and incorporated previously-collected p-tau181 from this same cohort.
Probable MCI-LB had elevated GFAP (p < 0.001) and NfL (p = 0.012) relative to controls, but not significantly lower Aβ42/40 (p = 0.06). GFAP and p-tau181 were higher in MCI-AD than MCI-LB. GFAP discriminated all MCI subgroups, from controls (AUC of 0.75), but no plasma-based marker effectively differentiated MCI-AD from MCI-LB. NfL correlated with disease severity and increased with MCI progression over time (p = 0.011).
Markers of AD and astrocytosis/neurodegeneration are elevated in MCI-LB. GFAP offered similar utility to p-tau181 in distinguishing MCI overall, and its subgroups, from healthy controls.
Impaired olfaction may be a biomarker for early Lewy body disease, but its value in mild cognitive impairment with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB) is unknown. We compared olfaction in MCI-LB with MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease (MCI-AD) and healthy older adults. We hypothesized that olfactory function would be worse in probable MCI-LB than in both MCI-AD and healthy comparison subjects (HC).
Cross-sectional study assessing olfaction using Sniffin’ Sticks 16 (SS-16) in MCI-LB, MCI-AD, and HC with longitudinal follow-up. Differences were adjusted for age, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used for discriminating MCI-LB from MCI-AD and HC.
Participants were recruited from Memory Services in the North East of England.
Thirty-eight probable MCI-LB, 33 MCI-AD, 19 possible MCI-LB, and 32HC.
Olfaction was assessed using SS-16 and a questionnaire.
Participants with probable MCI-LB had worse olfaction than both MCI-AD (age-adjusted mean difference (B) = 2.05, 95% CI: 0.62–3.49, p = 0.005) and HC (B = 3.96, 95% CI: 2.51–5.40, p < 0.001). The previously identified cutoff score for the SS-16 of ≤ 10 had 84% sensitivity for probable MCI-LB (95% CI: 69–94%), but 30% specificity versus MCI-AD. ROC analysis found a lower cutoff of ≤ 7 was better (63% sensitivity for MCI-LB, with 73% specificity vs MCI-AD and 97% vs HC). Asking about olfactory impairments was not useful in identifying them.
MCI-LB had worse olfaction than MCI-AD and normal aging. A lower cutoff score of ≤ 7 is required when using SS-16 in such patients. Olfactory testing may have value in identifying early LB disease in memory services.
The present study aimed to clarify the neuropsychological profile of the emergent diagnostic category of Mild Cognitive Impairment with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB) and determine whether domain-specific impairments such as in memory were related to deficits in domain-general cognitive processes (executive function or processing speed).
Patients (n = 83) and healthy age- and sex-matched controls (n = 34) underwent clinical and imaging assessments. Probable MCI-LB (n = 44) and MCI-Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (n = 39) were diagnosed following National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association (NIA-AA) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) consortium criteria. Neuropsychological measures included cognitive and psychomotor speed, executive function, working memory, and verbal and visuospatial recall.
MCI-LB scored significantly lower than MCI-AD on processing speed [Trail Making Test B: p = .03, g = .45; Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST): p = .04, g = .47; DSST Error Check: p < .001, g = .68] and executive function [Trail Making Test Ratio (A/B): p = .04, g = .52] tasks. MCI-AD performed worse than MCI-LB on memory tasks, specifically visuospatial (Modified Taylor Complex Figure: p = .01, g = .46) and verbal (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test: p = .04, g = .42) delayed recall measures. Stepwise discriminant analysis correctly classified the subtype in 65.1% of MCI patients (72.7% specificity, 56.4% sensitivity). Processing speed accounted for more group-associated variance in visuospatial and verbal memory in both MCI subtypes than executive function, while no significant relationships between measures were observed in controls (all ps > .05)
MCI-LB was characterized by executive dysfunction and slowed processing speed but did not show the visuospatial dysfunction expected, while MCI-AD displayed an amnestic profile. However, there was considerable neuropsychological profile overlap and processing speed mediated performance in both MCI subtypes.
Electroencephalographic (EEG) abnormalities are greater in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with Lewy bodies (MCI-LB) than in MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease (MCI-AD) and may anticipate the onset of dementia. We aimed to assess whether quantitative EEG (qEEG) slowing would predict a higher annual hazard of dementia in MCI across these etiologies. MCI patients (n = 92) and healthy comparators (n = 31) provided qEEG recording and underwent longitudinal clinical and cognitive follow-up. Associations between qEEG slowing, measured by increased theta/alpha ratio, and clinical progression from MCI to dementia were estimated with a multistate transition model to account for death as a competing risk, while controlling for age, cognitive function, and etiology classified by an expert consensus panel.
Over a mean follow-up of 1.5 years (SD = 0.5), 14 cases of incident dementia and 5 deaths were observed. Increased theta/alpha ratio on qEEG was associated with increased annual hazard of dementia (hazard ratio = 1.84, 95% CI: 1.01–3.35). This extends previous findings that MCI-LB features early functional changes, showing that qEEG slowing may anticipate the onset of dementia in prospectively identified MCI.
Dopaminergic imaging is an established biomarker for dementia with Lewy bodies, but its diagnostic accuracy at the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) stage remains uncertain.
To provide robust prospective evidence of the diagnostic accuracy of dopaminergic imaging at the MCI stage to either support or refute its inclusion as a biomarker for the diagnosis of MCI with Lewy bodies.
We conducted a prospective diagnostic accuracy study of baseline dopaminergic imaging with [123I]N-ω-fluoropropyl-2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)nortropane single-photon emission computerised tomography (123I-FP-CIT SPECT) in 144 patients with MCI. Images were rated as normal or abnormal by a panel of experts with access to striatal binding ratio results. Follow-up consensus diagnosis based on the presence of core features of Lewy body disease was used as the reference standard.
At latest assessment (mean 2 years) 61 patients had probable MCI with Lewy bodies, 26 possible MCI with Lewy bodies and 57 MCI due to Alzheimer's disease. The sensitivity of baseline FP-CIT visual rating for probable MCI with Lewy bodies was 66% (95% CI 52–77%), specificity 88% (76–95%) and accuracy 76% (68–84%), with positive likelihood ratio 5.3.
It is over five times as likely for an abnormal scan to be found in probable MCI with Lewy bodies than MCI due to Alzheimer's disease. Dopaminergic imaging appears to be useful at the MCI stage in cases where Lewy body disease is suspected clinically.
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