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Neurology. 2012 May 15;78(20):1576-82. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182563bbe. Epub 2012 May 2.

Short-term clinical outcomes for stages of NIA-AA preclinical Alzheimer disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Rochester, MN, USA.



Recommendations for the diagnosis of preclinical Alzheimer disease (AD) have been formulated by a workgroup of the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer's Association. Three stages of preclinical AD were described. Stage 1 is characterized by abnormal levels of β-amyloid. Stage 2 represents abnormal levels of β-amyloid and evidence of brain neurodegeneration. Stage 3 includes the features of stage 2 plus subtle cognitive changes. Stage 0, not explicitly defined in the criteria, represents subjects with normal biomarkers and normal cognition. The ability of the recommended criteria to predict progression to cognitive impairment is the crux of their validity.


Using previously developed operational definitions of the 3 stages of preclinical AD, we examined the outcomes of subjects from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging diagnosed as cognitively normal who underwent brain MRI or [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose and Pittsburgh compound B PET, had global cognitive test scores, and were followed for at least 1 year.


Of the 296 initially normal subjects, 31 (10%) progressed to a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia (27 amnestic MCI, 2 nonamnestic MCI, and 2 non-AD dementias) within 1 year. The proportion of subjects who progressed to MCI or dementia increased with advancing stage (stage 0, 5%; stage 1, 11%; stage 2, 21%; stage 3, 43%; test for trend, p < 0.001).


Despite the short follow-up period, our operationalization of the new preclinical AD recommendations confirmed that advancing preclinical stage led to higher proportions of subjects who progressed to MCI or dementia.

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