Background: Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is generally considered a young-onset dementia, although age at onset is highly variable. While several studies indicate clinical differences regarding age at onset, no biomarker validated cohort studies with updated clinical criteria have been performed.
Objective: We aimed to examine behavior, cognition, and mortality over the full age spectrum in a cohort of bvFTD patients with neuroimaging, genetic, or histopathological confirmation and exclusion of positive Alzheimer's disease biomarkers or severe cerebrovascular damage.
Methods: In total, 315 patients with a clinical diagnosis of probable or definite bvFTD were included from the Amsterdam Dementia Cohort and grouped into quartiles by age-at-diagnosis. Neuropsychiatric symptoms and cognitive functioning were assessed with the neuropsychiatric inventory, the geriatric depression scale and a neuropsychological test battery. Data on mortality was obtained from the Dutch municipal register. Associations between age-at-diagnosis and clinical features and mortality risk were examined.
Results: Age-at-diagnosis ranged from 26 to 85 years and established quartiles with mean ages of 52±6, 61±2, 66±2, and 74±3 years. In the total sample, 44.4%exceeded an age of 65 years at time of diagnosis. Earlier age-at-diagnosis was associated with more severe behavioral symptoms, while later age-at-diagnosis was associated with more severe memory impairment. Unexpectedly, mortality risk was not associated with age-at-diagnosis.
Conclusion: In bvFTD, symptom profile is associated with age-at-diagnosis. This should be taken into account with regard to diagnostics, patient management, and trial design. Additionally, based on our sample, the prevalence of late-onset bvFTD is higher than generally thought.
Keywords: Behavior; cognition; frontotemporal dementia; late-onset; mortality; young-onset.