Influence of education on cognitive performance and dopamine transporter binding in dementia with Lewy bodies

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2016 Jul;146:138-43. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2016.05.009. Epub 2016 May 10.


Objectives: Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are the two most common forms of dementia. These two diseases share some clinical and pathological similarities, yet the loss of dopaminergic neurons confirmed by 123-I-Ioflupane Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) is a suggestive feature of DLB. Current evidence suggests that higher education has a protective effect on the risk of developing clinical AD. However, how education influences cognitive performance and the presynaptic dopamine transporter marker in DLB is unknown.

Materials and methods: We reviewed 56 consecutive patients with DLB who underwent a 123-I-Ioflupane SPECT from January 2009 to August 2013 at the University Hospital of Caen. We collected clinical and neuropsychological data from medical files and 123-I-Ioflupane SPECT data for all patients.

Results: There was no correlation between education and global cognitive performance in patients with DLB. However, there was a positive correlation between education and tests exploring visuoconstructive functions (Rey complex figure copy and recall) and verbal retrieval strategies (Grober and Buschke free recall test). There was also a positive correlation between education and dopamine transporter binding. Higher educated patients had higher binding in the striatum, putamen and caudate nucleus (p=0.001 for each regions of interest). Dopamine transporter binding in the striatum, putamen and caudate nucleus was lower in the subgroup of patients with REM sleep behavior disorder, but was not associated with other DLB symptoms.

Conclusion: Higher education may have a protective effect on visuoconstructive performance and verbal retrieval strategies and may influence dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurodegeneration in patients with DLB.

Keywords: 123-I-Ioflupane SPECT; Cognition; Cognitive reserve; DaTSCAN; Dementia with; Education; Lewy body.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Reserve / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / metabolism*
  • Lewy Body Disease / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins