Senile dementia of Lewy body type. A clinically and neuropathologically distinct form of Lewy body dementia in the elderly

J Neurol Sci. 1990 Feb;95(2):119-39. doi: 10.1016/0022-510x(90)90236-g.


A dementing syndrome has been identified in a group of psychiatric cases aged 71-90 years, presenting initially with a subacute/acute confusional state, often fluctuating and associated with visual hallucinations and behavioural disturbances. Clinically, these cases did not meet criteria for a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, and many were assigned to the multiinfarct dementia group, although no significant ischaemic lesions were evident at autopsy. Mild extrapyramidal features were apparent in a number of cases but the characteristic clinical triad of Parkinson's disease, i.e., tremor, rigidity, and akinesia, was absent. Detailed neuropathological examination revealed Lewy body formation and selective neuronal loss in brain stem and other subcortical nuclei, accompanied by Lewy body formation in neo- and limbic cortex, at densities well below those previously reported in diffuse Lewy body disease. A variable degree of senile degenerative change was present; numerous senile plaques and minimal neurofibrillary tangles in most cases. Neither the clinical nor the neuropathological features of this group are typical of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease, but suggest a distinct neurodegenerative disorder, part of the Lewy body disease spectrum, in which mental symptoms predominate over motor disabilities and lead to eventual psychogeriatric hospital admission. In a sequential series of autopsies conducted on clinically assessed demented patients, neuropathological analysis has indicated that such cases may comprise up to 20% of a hospitalized population of demented old people over the age of 70 years, an observation clearly relevant to the diagnosis and management of dementia in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Dementia / pathology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / pathology
  • Male
  • Neurofibrils / pathology