Differentiated clinical presentation of early and late-onset Alzheimer's disease: is 65 years of age providing a reliable threshold?

J Neurol. 2015 May;262(5):1238-46. doi: 10.1007/s00415-015-7698-3. Epub 2015 Mar 21.


Early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer's disease (EOAD and LOAD) are two forms of the disease with the same characteristic neuropathological hallmarks. However, higher burdens of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in frontal and parietal lobes have been found in EOAD than in LOAD patients. Thus, the EOAD subjects may have a differentiated clinical presentation compared to the LOAD ones. Some authors have found less hippocampal memory presentations and more focal cortical abnormalities (such as visuoconstructive or executive dysfunction) in EOAD than LOAD patients. The aim of the present study was to determine which initial clinical profiles differ between EOAD and LOAD; and to analyze whether another age cut-off could discriminate better between EOAD and LOAD clinical presentations than the conventional limit of 65. All patients fulfilling NINCDS-ADRDA criteria for probable Alzheimer's disease who referred to our Hospital between October 2007 and December 2012 were included in the study. The conventional age limit of 65 was established to distinguish between EOAD and LOAD. Baseline neuropsychological scores, adjusted for age and education, were compared between both groups. A total of 181 patients (38 EOAD, 143 LOAD) entered in the analysis. Sex distribution and time of evolution of symptoms did not differ between groups. The EOAD patients performed worse than LOAD in attentional, imitation praxis and verbal learning tests. In addition, the age cut-off of 70 was found to differentiate between early- and late-onset groups better than the standard cut-off of 65 years old. Our results support a differentiated neuropsychological impairment pattern in EOAD compared to LOAD.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / classification*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results