Atypical and typical presentations of Alzheimer's disease: a clinical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging and pathological study of 13 cases

Brain. 2000 Mar;123 Pt 3:484-98. doi: 10.1093/brain/123.3.484.


There has been increasing awareness that some slowly progressive focal cortical syndromes can be the presenting features of Alzheimer's disease, but pathological evidence has been sparse. This clinico-pathological series presents our experience with pathologically proven atypical as well as typical Alzheimer's disease presentations. We report and compare four patterns of presentation: a typical pattern with initial amnesic syndrome (n = 4 cases), progressive visual dysfunction (n = 1), progressive biparietal syndrome (n = 2) and progressive aphasia (n = 6). The aphasic presentations include both fluent and non-fluent aphasic syndromes. The neuropsychological profiles and neuroimaging clearly reflect the presenting clinical features, and show a close relationship to the distribution of pathology in these cases. Of note was the sparing of medial temporal structures (hippocampus and/or entorhinal cortex) in several aphasic cases and the severe occipito-parietal involvement in those with prominent visuospatial disorders at presentation. Our data demonstrate the wide spectrum of Alzheimer's disease presentations. The recognition of atypical presentations of Alzheimer's disease is important when attempting to make an early accurate pre-morbid diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive / diagnostic imaging
  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive / etiology*
  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive / pathology*
  • Aphasia, Wernicke / diagnostic imaging
  • Aphasia, Wernicke / etiology
  • Aphasia, Wernicke / pathology
  • Atrophy
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Vision Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / pathology