Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) generally evolves in a gradually progressive decline in memory and non-memory cognitive domains that may eventually decay to dementia. This process might be preventable by improving early detection of the MCI syndrome followed by proper and timely interventions. The aim of this work was providing helpful indications for a standardized early diagnosis of MCI, mainly focusing on the Italian elderly population. We reviewed here MCI epidemiology and classification, as well as the most recent advancements in early detection of the patient with MCI in the Italian scenario. Specialist centers in connection with general practitioners (GPs) have been established across the country and designated as Centers for Cognitive Disorders and Dementia (CDCD). CDCDs are dedicated to the diagnosis and management of patients for all forms of dementia across all the complex staging spectrum. New tools were made available by the advancements of imaging techniques and of the research on biomarkers, leading to novel approaches based on the combination of imaging and biomarker detection, to improve accuracy and effectiveness in the early diagnosis of MCI. Moreover, patient genotyping, alone or in combination with other techniques, was also revealed as a promising method in evaluating and preventing MCI progression. We recommend the introduction of all these novel tools in the diagnostic practice of the specialist centers and that further efforts and resources are spent into the research of the most effective techniques and biomarkers to be introduced as first-level tests into the practice of early diagnosis of MCI.
Keywords: Biomarkers; early diagnosis; genotyping; imaging; mild cognitive impairment; neuropsychological assessment.