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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.
To develop and validate the Discrepancy-based Evidence for Loss of Thinking Abilities (DELTA) score. The DELTA score characterizes the strength of evidence for cognitive decline on a continuous spectrum using well-established psychometric principles for improving detection of cognitive changes.
DELTA score development used neuropsychological test scores from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) cohort (two tests each from Memory, Executive Function, and Language domains). We derived regression-based normative reference scores using age, gender, years of education, and word-reading ability from robust cognitively normal ADNI participants. Discrepancies between predicted and observed scores were used for calculating the DELTA score (range 0–15). We validated DELTA scores primarily against longitudinal Clinical Dementia Rating-Sum of Boxes (CDR-SOB) and Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) scores (baseline assessment through Year 3) using linear mixed models and secondarily against cross-sectional Alzheimer’s biomarkers.
There were 1359 ADNI participants with calculable baseline DELTA scores (age 73.7 ± 7.1 years, 55.4% female, 100% white/Caucasian). Higher baseline DELTA scores (stronger evidence of cognitive decline) predicted higher baseline CDR-SOB (ΔR2 = .318) and faster rates of CDR-SOB increase over time (ΔR2 = .209). Longitudinal changes in DELTA scores tracked closely and in the same direction as CDR-SOB scores (fixed and random effects of mean + mean-centered DELTA, ΔR2 > .7). Results were similar for FAQ scores. High DELTA scores predicted higher PET-Aβ SUVr (ρ = 324), higher CSF-pTau/CSF-Aβ ratio (ρ = .460), and demonstrated PPV > .9 for positive Alzheimer’s disease biomarker classification.
Data support initial development and validation of the DELTA score through its associations with longitudinal functional changes and Alzheimer’s biomarkers. We provide several considerations for future research and include an automated scoring program for clinical use.
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