Prominent Non-Memory Deficits in Alzheimer's Disease Are Associated with Faster Disease Progression

J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;65(3):1029-1039. doi: 10.3233/JAD-171088.


Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a heterogeneous disorder.

Objective: To investigate whether cognitive AD subtypes are associated with different rates of disease progression.

Methods: We included 1,066 probable AD patients from the Amsterdam Dementia Cohort (n = 290), Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (n = 268), Dementia Competence Network (n = 226), and University of California, San Francisco (n = 282) with available follow-up data. Patients were previously clustered into two subtypes based on their neuropsychological test results: one with most prominent memory impairment (n = 663) and one with most prominent non-memory impairment (n = 403). We examined associations between cognitive subtype and disease progression, as measured with repeated Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Clinical Dementia Rating scale sum of boxes (CDR sob), using linear mixed models. Furthermore, we investigated mortality risk associated with subtypes using Cox proportional hazard analyses.

Results: Patients were 71±9 years old; 541 (51%) were female. At baseline, pooled non-memory patients had worse MMSE scores (23.1±0.1) and slightly worse CDR sob (4.4±0.1) than memory patients (MMSE 24.0±0.1; p < 0.001; CDR sob 4.1±0.1; p < 0.001). During follow-up, pooled non-memory patients showed steeper annual decline in MMSE (-2.8±0.1) and steeper annual increase in CDR sob (1.8±0.1) than memory patients (MMSE - 1.9±0.1; pinteraction<0.001; CDR sob 1.3±0.1; pinteraction<0.001). Furthermore, the non-memory subtype was associated with an increased risk of mortality compared with the memory subtype at trend level (HR = 1.36, CI = 1.00-1.85, p = 0.05).

Conclusions: AD patients with most prominently non-memory impairment show faster disease progression and higher risk of mortality than patients with most prominently memory impairment.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; clustering; cognition; dementia; disease progression; mortality; phenotypes; subtypes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / mortality
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders* / mortality
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Phenotype
  • Superior Sagittal Sinus
  • Time Factors