Background: The logopenic variant of Primary Progressive Aphasia (lvPPA) is associated with underlying Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology and characterized by impaired single word retrieval and repetition of phrases and sentences.
Objective: We set out to study whether logopenic aphasia is indeed the prototypic language profile in PPA patients with biomarker evidence of underlying AD pathology and to correlate language profiles with cortical atrophy patterns on MRI.
Methods: Inclusion criteria: (I) clinical diagnosis of PPA; (II) CSF profile and/or PiB-PET scan indicative for amyloid pathology; (III) availability of expert language evaluation. Based on language evaluation, patients were classified as lvPPA (fulfilling lvPPA core criteria), lvPPA extended (fulfilling core criteria plus other language disturbances), or PPA unclassifiable (not fulfilling lvPPA core criteria). Cortical atrophy patterns on MRI were visually rated and quantitative measurements of cortical thickness were performed using FreeSurfer.
Results: We included 22 patients (age 67±7 years, 50% female, MMSE 21±6). 41% were classified as lvPPA, 36% as lvPPA extended with additional deficits in language comprehension and/or confrontation naming, and 23% as PPA unclassifiable. By both qualitative and quantitative measurements, patients with lvPPA showed mild global cortical atrophy on MRI, whereas patients with lvPPA extended showed more focal cortical atrophy, predominantly at the left tempo-parietal side. For PPA unclassifiable, qualitative measurements revealed a heterogeneous atrophy pattern.
Conclusion: Although most patients fulfilled the lvPPA criteria, we found that their language profiles were heterogeneous. The clinical and radiological spectrum of PPA due to underlying AD pathology is broader than pure lvPPA.
Keywords: Atypical Alzheimer’s disease; cerebral atrophy; language disorders; logopenic aphasia; neurodegenerative disorder; primary progressive aphasia.