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Keywords:

  • Alzheimer disease;
  • premorbid personality;
  • personality changes;
  • behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia

Objective

The origins of behavioral and psychological symptoms (BPS) in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are still poorly understood. Focusing on individual personality structure, we explored the relationship between premorbid personality and its changes over 5 years, and BPS in patients at an early stage of AD.

Method

A total of 54 patients at an early stage of AD according to ICD-10 and NINCDS-ADRDA criteria and 64 control subjects were included. Family members filled in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire to evaluate their proxies' current BPS and the NEO Personality Inventory Revised twice, the first time to evaluate the participants' current personality and the second time to assess personality traits as they were remembered to be 5 years earlier.

Results

Behavioral and psychological symptoms, in particular apathy, depression, anxiety, and agitation, are frequent occurrences in early stage AD. Premorbid personality differed between AD patients and normal control, but it was not predictive of BPS in patients with AD. Personality traits clearly change in the course of beginning AD, and this change seems to develop in parallel with BPS as early signs of AD.

Conclusions

Premorbid personality was not associated with BPS in early stage of AD, although complex and non-linear relationships between the two are not excluded. However, both personality and behavioral changes occur early in the course of AD, and recognizing them as possible, early warning signs of neurodegeneration may prove to be a key factor for early detection and intervention. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.