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J Intern Med. 2014 Mar;275(3):204-13. doi: 10.1111/joim.12199.

Harmonized diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease: recommendations.

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Department of Neurology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA.



Two major sets of criteria for the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) recently have been published, one from an International Working Group (IWG) and the other from working groups convened by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer's Association (AA) in the United States. These criteria both aim to support a clinical diagnosis with in vivo evidence of AD pathology, using imaging methods and detection of biofluid biomarkers, and emphasize an aetiological diagnosis even in the prodromal stages of the disorder. Nonetheless, there are substantial differences in these two sets of criteria.


An international group of investigators with experience in the clinical diagnosis of AD met at the Key Symposium in Stockholm, Sweden on 6 & 7 December 2012, to develop recommendations to harmonize these criteria. The group was led by individuals who were integral to the development of both the IWG and the NIA-AA criteria. The similarities and differences between the two sets of criteria were identified and open discussion focused on ways to resolve the differences and thus yield a harmonized set of criteria.


Based on both published evidence as well as the group's collective clinical experience, the group was tasked with achieving consensus, if not unanimity, as it developed recommendations for harmonized clinical diagnostic criteria for AD.


The recommendations are to: (i) define AD as a brain disorder, regardless of clinical status; (ii) refer to the clinically expressed disorder, including its prodromal stages, as symptomatic AD; (iii) after the successful completion of standardization efforts, consider incorporating biomarkers into diagnostic algorithms for AD; and (iv) allow nonamnestic, atypical presentations to be included as symptomatic AD, especially when there is supportive biomarker evidence.


Alzheimer biomarkers; Alzheimer's disease; clinical diagnostic criteria; preclinical Alzheimer's disease

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