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Neurology. 1991 Apr;41(4):469-78.

Very mild Alzheimer's disease: informant-based clinical, psychometric, and pathologic distinction from normal aging.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Washington University, St. Louis, MO.


We compare clinicopathologic data from 10 subjects identified in the very mild stage of senile dementia of the Alzheimer type with findings from similar studies in four cognitively normal subjects. We based the diagnosis of very mild dementia in the 10 subjects on informant reports and the judgment of experienced clinicians. Deficits of some psychometric measures of memory, language, and speeded psychomotor performance were observed for these subjects. The histologic markers of Alzheimer's disease, including neurofibrillary tangles and both the "diffuse" and classic subtypes of senile plaques, were present in the neocortex in all 10 subjects but essentially were absent in the four controls. These findings indicate that even "questionable" dementia can be diagnostic for Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, because truly normal aging may be unaccompanied by neocortical senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the presence of these lesions should suggest the possibility of clinically undetected Alzheimer's disease.

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