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J Alzheimers Dis. 2013;37(1):137-46. doi: 10.3233/JAD-130320.

Different demographic, genetic, and longitudinal traits in language versus memory Alzheimer's subgroups.

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Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The study's objective was to compare demographics, APOE genotypes, and rate of rise over time in functional impairment in neuropsychologically defined language, typical, and memory subgroups of clinical Alzheimer's disease (AD). 1,368 participants from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center database with a diagnosis of probable AD (CDR 0.5-1.0) were included. A language subgroup (n = 229) was defined as having language performance >1 SD worse than memory performance. A memory subgroup (n = 213) was defined as having memory performance >1 SD worse than language performance. A typical subgroup (n = 926) was defined as having a difference in language and memory performance of <1 SD. Compared with the memory subgroup, the language subgroup was 3.7 years older and more frequently self-identified as African American (OR = 3.69). Under a dominant genetic model, the language subgroup had smaller odds of carrying at least one APOEε4 allele relative to the memory subgroup. While this difference was present for all ages, it was more striking at a younger age (OR = 0.19 for youngest tertile; OR = 0.52 for oldest tertile). Compared with the memory subgroup, the language subgroup rose 35% faster on the Functional Assessment Questionnaire and 44% faster on CDR sum of boxes over time. Among a subset of participants who underwent autopsy (n = 98), the language, memory, and typical subgroups were equally likely to have an AD pathologic diagnosis, suggesting that variation in non-AD pathologies across subtypes did not lead to the observed differences. The study demonstrates that a language subgroup of AD has different demographics, genetic profile, and disease course in addition to cognitive phenotype.

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