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J Inherit Metab Dis. 2007 Feb;30(1):60-7. Epub 2006 Dec 11.

Neuropsychological profile of adult patients with Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) mutations.

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Institute for Psychogerontology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.


Niemann-Pick type C disease is a fatal neurovisceral disorder linked to dysregulation in cholesterol processing. A medication for this disease is currently being tested in clinical trials. However, there is a lack of information on neuropsychological testing parameters for this disease. One aim of this pilot study was to evaluate a test battery that could be used to assess cognitive deficits in different stages of the disease. A second aim was to determine whether specific functional deficits are associated with certain disease stages. Eight men and two women (19-40 years of age) harbouring mutations in the gene coding for the cholesterol trafficking protein NPC1 were put through the same test battery independently of their disease stage. The external staging criterion was based on a five-step clinical scale. Trail Making tests A & B and verbal fluency were sensitive indicators at early stages of NPC. Corsi Block-Tapping, Mini Mental Status, Find Similarities and Clock Drawing showed abnormal results in patients with advanced disease. The Grooved Pegboard, Trail Making and Mosaic tests were unsuitable in advanced disease due to impaired fine motor skills. We observed that visuospatial working memory was less affected by the neurodegenerative process than verbal working memory. The series of tests used here could be supplemented by the severe impairment battery and Raven matrices tests for patients with advanced disease.

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