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Lancet Neurol. 2011 Mar;10(3):213-20. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(10)70323-9. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

Pre-dementia clinical stages in presenilin 1 E280A familial early-onset Alzheimer's disease: a retrospective cohort study.

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Neuroscience Group of Antioquia, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia.



Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and pre-MCI have been proposed as stages preceding Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia. We assessed descendants of individuals with a mutation in presenilin 1 (PSEN1) that causes familial AD, with the aim of identifying distinct stages of clinical progression to AD dementia.


We retrospectively studied a cohort of descendants of carriers of the PSEN1 E280A mutation. Pre-dementia cognitive impairment was defined by a score 2 SD away from normal values in objective cognitive tests, and was subdivided as follows: asymptomatic pre-MCI was defined by an absence of memory complaints and no effect on activities of daily living; symptomatic pre-MCI was defined by a score on the subjective memory complaints checklist higher than the mean and no effect on activities of daily living; and MCI was defined by a score on the subjective memory complaints checklist higher than the mean, with no effect on basic activities of daily living and little or no effect on complex daily activities. Dementia was defined according to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Reference mean scores were those of participants who did not carry the PSEN1 E280A mutation. We used the Turnbull survival analysis method to identify ages at onset of each stage of the disease. We measured the time from birth until onset of the three pre-dementia stages, dementia, and death, and assessed decline in cognitive domains for each stage.


Follow-up was from Jan 1, 1995, to Jan 27, 2010. 1784 patients were initially identified, 449 of whom were PSEN1 E280A carriers who had complete clinical follow-up. Median age at onset was 35 years (95% CI 30-36) for asymptomatic pre-MCI, 38 years (37-40) for symptomatic pre-MCI, 44 years (43-45) for MCI, and 49 years (49-50) for dementia. The median age at death was 59 years (95% CI 58-61). The median time of progression from asymptomatic to symptomatic pre-MCI was 4 years (95% CI 2-8), from symptomatic pre-MCI to MCI was 6 years (4-7), from MCI to dementia was 5 years (4-6), and from dementia to death was 10 years (9-12). The cognitive profile was predominantly amnestic and was associated with multiple domains. Affected domains showed variability in initial stages, with some transient recovery in symptomatic pre-MCI followed by continuous decline.


Clinical deterioration can be detected as measurable cognitive impairment around two decades before dementia onset in PSEN1 E280A carriers. Onset and progression of pre-dementia stages should be considered in the investigation and use of therapeutic interventions for familial AD.


Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación, COLCIENCIAS, Republic of Colombia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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