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Visual memory (ViM) declines early in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, it is unclear whether ViM impairment is evident in the preclinical stage and relates to markers of AD pathology. We examined the relationship between ViM performance and in vivo markers of brain pathology in individuals with autosomal dominant AD (ADAD).
Forty-five cognitively unimpaired individuals from a Colombian kindred with the Presenilin 1 (PSEN1) E280A ADAD mutation (19 carriers and 26 noncarriers) completed the Rey–Osterrieth Complex Figure immediate recall test, a measure of ViM. Cortical amyloid burden and regional tau deposition in the entorhinal cortex (EC) and inferior temporal cortex (IT) were measured using 11C-Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography (PET) and 11F-flortaucipir PET, respectively.
Cognitively unimpaired carriers and noncarriers did not differ on ViM performance. Compared to noncarriers, carriers had higher levels of cortical amyloid and regional tau in both the EC and IT. In cognitively unimpaired carriers, greater cortical amyloid burden, higher levels of regional tau, and greater age were associated with worse ViM performance. Only a moderate correlation between regional tau and ViM performance remained after adjusting for verbal memory scores. None of these correlations were observed in noncarriers.
Results suggest that AD pathology and greater age are associated with worse ViM performance in ADAD before the onset of clinical symptoms. Further investigation with larger samples and longitudinal follow-up is needed to examine the utility of ViM measures for identifying individuals at high risk of developing dementia later in life.
Executive dysfunction is a predominant cognitive symptom in cerebral small vessel disease (SVD). The Institute of Cognitive Neurology Frontal Screening (IFS) is a well-validated screening tool allowing the rapid assessment of multiple components of executive function in Spanish-speaking individuals. In this study, we examined performance on the IFS in subjects with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), an inherited condition leading to the early onset of SVD. We further explored associations between performance on the IFS and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers of SVD.
We recruited 24 asymptomatic CADASIL subjects and 23 noncarriers from Colombia. All subjects underwent a research MRI and a neuropsychological evaluation, including the IFS. Structural MRI markers of SVD were quantified in each subject, together with an SVD Sum Score representing the overall burden of cerebrovascular alterations. General linear model, correlation, and receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were used to explore group differences on the IFS and relationships with MRI markers of SVD.
CADASIL subjects had a significantly reduced performance on the IFS Total Score. Performance on the IFS correlated with all quantified markers of SVD, except for brain atrophy and perivascular spaces enlargement. Finally, while the IFS Total Score was not able to accurately discriminate between carriers and noncarriers, it showed adequate sensitivity and specificity in detecting the presence of multiple MRI markers of SVD.
These results suggest that the IFS may be a useful screening tool to assess executive function and disease severity in the context of SVD.
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