BACKGROUND: Diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) confirmed by biomarkers allows the patient to make important life decisions. However, doubt about the fleetness of symptoms progression and future cognitive decline remains. Neuropsychological measures were extensively studied in prediction of time to conversion to dementia for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients in the absence of biomarker information. Similar neuropsychological measures might also be useful to predict the progression to dementia in patients with MCI due to AD.
OBJECTIVE: To study the contribution of neuropsychological measures to predict time to conversion to dementia in patients with MCI due to AD.
METHODS: Patients with MCI due to AD were enrolled from a clinical cohort and the effect of neuropsychological performance on time to conversion to dementia was analyzed.
RESULTS: At baseline, converters scored lower than non-converters at measures of verbal initiative, non-verbal reasoning, and episodic memory. The test of non-verbal reasoning was the only statistically significant predictor in a multivariate Cox regression model. A decrease of one standard deviation was associated with 29% of increase in the risk of conversion to dementia. Approximately 50% of patients with more than one standard deviation below the mean in the z score of that test had converted to dementia after 3 years of follow-up.
CONCLUSION: In MCI due to AD, lower performance in a test of non-verbal reasoning was associated with time to conversion to dementia. This test, that reveals little decline in the earlier phases of AD, appears to convey important information concerning conversion to dementia.