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World Psychiatry. 2008;7(2):72-8.

Mild cognitive impairment: searching for the prodrome of Alzheimer's disease.

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Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 5300 Alpha Commons Drive, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The concept of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) identifies persons who are neither cognitively normal nor demented. There is increasing evidence that MCI defines a group of persons who are at near-term risk of developing dementia and particularly Alzheimer's disease (AD). MCI thus constitutes an attractive target population for preventive treatments of AD. MCI is associated with aging and is more prevalent than dementia. There are several clinical and biological markers that are predictive of MCI prognosis, including depressive symptoms, cognitive deficits, brain imaging and neurochemical findings. The clinician needs to be especially alert to depressive and other mood symptoms which are common in MCI and potentially treatable. Trials of current medications for prevention of MCI progression to dementia have been largely negative. There are observational data suggesting that lifestyle modifications including exercise, leisure activities, cognitive stimulation, and social activities may be effective for prevention of MCI progression. There are many novel therapies currently in trials for early AD, and if effective they may prove to be helpful in prevention of MCI progression as well.


Alzheimer's disease; Mild cognitive impairment; aging; depressive symptoms; exercise; prevention

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