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Neuropathologic Correlates of Psychiatric Symptoms in Alzheimer's Disease.


Clarifying the relationships between neuropsychiatric symptoms and Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related pathology may open avenues for effective treatments. Here, we investigate the odds of developing neuropsychiatric symptoms across increasing burdens of neurofibrillary tangle and amyloid-β pathology. Participants who passed away between 2004 and 2014 underwent comprehensive neuropathologic evaluation at the Biobank for Aging Studies from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of São Paulo. Postmortem interviews with reliable informants were used to collect information regarding neuropsychiatric and cognitive status. Of 1,092 cases collected, those with any non-Alzheimer pathology were excluded, bringing the cohort to 455 cases. Braak staging was used to evaluate neurofibrillary tangle burden, and the CERAD neuropathology score was used to evaluate amyloid-β burden. The 12-item neuropsychiatric inventory was used to evaluate neuropsychiatric symptoms and CDR-SOB score was used to evaluate dementia status. In Braak I/II, significantly increased odds were detected for agitation, anxiety, appetite changes, depression, and sleep disturbances, compared to controls. Increased odds of agitation continue into Braak III/IV. Braak V/VI is associated with higher odds for delusions. No increased odds for neuropsychiatric symptoms were found to correlate with amyloid-β pathology. Increased odds of neuropsychiatric symptoms are associated with early neurofibrillary tangle pathology, suggesting that subcortical neurofibrillary tangle accumulation with minimal cortical pathology is sufficient to impact quality of life and that neuropsychiatric symptoms are a manifestation of AD biological processes.

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