Biomarker Use for Dementia With Lewy Body Diagnosis: Survey of US Experts

Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2021 Jan-Mar 01;35(1):55-61. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0000000000000414.


Background: Dementia with Lewy body (DLB) diagnostic criteria define "indicative" and "supportive" biomarkers, but clinical practice patterns are unknown.

Methods: An anonymous survey querying clinical use of diagnostic tests/biomarkers was sent to 38 center of excellence investigators. The survey included "indicative" biomarkers (dopamine transporter scan, myocardial scintigraphy, polysomnography), "supportive" biomarkers [magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)], positron emission tomography, or single-photon emission computed tomography perfusion/metabolism scans, quantitative electroencephalography), and other diagnostic tests (neuropsychological testing, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, genetics). Responses were analyzed descriptively.

Results: Of the 22 respondents (58%), all reported the capability to perform neuropsychological testing, MRI, polysomnography, dopamine transporter scans, positron emission tomography/single-photon emission computed tomography scans, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis; 96% could order genetic testing. Neuropsychological testing and MRI were the most commonly ordered tests. Diagnostic testing beyond MRI and neuropsychological testing was most helpful in the context of "possible" DLB and mild cognitive impairment and to assist with differential diagnosis. Myocardial scintigraphy and electroencephalograpy use were rare.

Conclusions and relevance: Neuropsychological testing and MRI remain the most widely used diagnostic tests by DLB specialists. Other tests-particularly indicative biomarkers-are used only selectively. Research is needed to validate existing potential DLB biomarkers, develop new biomarkers, and investigate mechanisms to improve DLB diagnosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers* / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Biomarkers* / metabolism
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Biomarkers
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins