Objective: To describe a patient with pathologically proven Alzheimer disease (AD) who presented with a non-fluent progressive aphasic syndrome.
Design: Longitudinal neuropsychological assessment, structural (magnetic resonance imaging) and functional (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging, and postmortem brain examination.
Setting: Memory and cognitive disorders clinic in a tertiary referral hospital.
Patient: A 66-year-old man presented with a 5-year history of progressive nonfluent aphasia characterized by marked deficits in phonology and syntax with preservation of everyday abilities. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he died suddenly of a myocardial infarction 12 months later.
Results: Neuropsychological testing revealed mild global intellectual impairment with marked impairment of auditory verbal short-term memory, syntactic, and phonological abilities. His naming errors were predominantly phonological paraphasias. Magnetic resonance imaging scans showed left perisylvian atrophy and results of a Tc 99m hexamethyl-propyleneamine-oxime single photon emission computed tomographic scan were normal. Postmortem pathological examination revealed typical AD pathological features with atypical distribution, involving predominantly perisylvian language areas, but sparing the medial temporal lobe.
Conclusions: The language deficits in AD, which have received considerable attention, are thought to involve predominantly lexicosemantic processes. When AD presents as a relatively isolated language disturbance, the aphasia is usually of the fluent anomic type. To our knowledge, our patient represents the first fully documented case of progressive nonfluent aphasia with pathologically verified AD.