Background: Studies of patients meeting clinical and pathologic criteria for Alzheimer disease (AD) have not consistently found associations between the presence of Lewy bodies (LBs) at postmortem examination and a higher frequency during life of the clinical features of dementia with LBs.
Objective: To evaluate the clinical correlates of LBs in patients with AD.
Design and methods: Fifty-one patients were diagnosed as having probable AD during life and met pathologic criteria for AD. Semiquantitative ratings for LBs were obtained in 4 brain regions: substantia nigra, cingulate, insular cortex, and hippocampus. The patients had been followed up semiannually for up to 9.9 years before death, and clinical features associated with dementia with LBs, including extrapyramidal signs and visual hallucinations, were assessed at each study visit. Logistic regression analyses determined whether patients who had LBs were more likely than those without LBs to express specific clinical signs during follow-up. Cox analyses determined whether patients with LBs developed clinical signs or died earlier. Generalized estimating equations were used to compare rates of cognitive or functional change.
Results: Nineteen of the 51 patients had at least 1 LB in one of the studied regions. In no case was a significant relation noted between LBs and the presence of a measured clinical sign. No LB measure was associated with an increased risk of developing any of the evaluated clinical signs earlier in the disease. There was no association between the presence of LBs and more rapid mortality or more rapid disease progression.
Conclusions: In patients diagnosed as having AD during life, we did not observe a relation of LBs noted during postmortem examination with the presence of any clinical feature that we assessed or with the rapidity of disease progression. The relation between LBs and specific clinical manifestations may be tenuous in these patients.