Fluctuating cognition and different cognitive and behavioural profiles in Parkinson's disease with dementia: comparison of dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease

J Neurol. 2010 Jun;257(6):1004-11. doi: 10.1007/s00415-010-5453-3. Epub 2010 Jan 22.


To examine the occurrence of fluctuating cognition (FC) in a group of patients with Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD), and to determine whether the presence of FC in PDD is associated with a pattern of cognitive and behavioural disturbances similar to the one shown by patients affected by dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), a cluster analysis was carried out on the scores obtained by 27 PDD patients on the Clinician Assessment of Fluctuation Scale (CAF). The analysis separated the PDD patients into two subgroups, called PDD non-fluctuators (PDDNF; CAF <or= 2) and PDD fluctuators (PDDF; CAF > 2). The two groups underwent a cognitive and behavioural evaluation. Their scores were compared with those obtained by DLB and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. When exploring the cognitive performance of the patients with the Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS-2), PDDF had a similar pattern of impairments compared to DLB, which involved prevalently the attention and initiation/perseveration domains, and which was significantly more pronounced compared to that shown by PDDNF. The main behavioural finding of the study was the similar incidence of visual hallucinations in the PDDF and DLB groups, which was significantly higher compared to PDDNF and AD. Our results confirmed the hypothesis that subgroups with different cognitive profiles exist within PDD and that the occurrence of FC is the clinical variable associated with a DLB pattern of impairment in PDD. In conclusion, our study suggests that when FC occurs in PDD this syndrome becomes clinically undistinguishable from DLB.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / complications
  • Lewy Body Disease / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales