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Keywords:

  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • small vessel disease;
  • delusion;
  • depression

Background

Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is frequently observed in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the association between SVD and clinical symptoms exhibited by patients with AD remains unclear. This study examined the association of SVD as observed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and cognitive function of patients with probable AD.

Methods

A total of 163 consecutive patients (55 men, 108 women) with probable AD were included in this cross-sectional study of a prospective cohort. Patients were divided into two groups based on the presence or absence of cerebral SVD [white matter hyperintensities (WMH) grade 0/1 (Fazekas scale) and no lacunes: SVD absent, WMH grade 2/3 (Fazekas scale) or the number of lacunes ≥1: SVD present]. Cognitive functions were assessed using the Mini mental state examination, word recall and recognition subtests in the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale—Cognitive Subscale, as well as the letter fluency task and the category fluency task. Psychiatric symptoms were rated according to Neuropsychiatric Inventory.

Results

Patients with probable AD with cerebral SVD had significantly more delusions and depression than those without SVD. No significant differences were observed in other neuropsychiatric symptoms, MMSE or word recall and recognition tests between both groups.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that cerebral SVD observed on MRI of patients with AD is associated with delusions and depression. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.