Differentiating prodromal dementia with Lewy bodies from prodromal Alzheimer's disease: a pragmatic review for clinicians

Kathryn Wyman-Chick*, Parichita Chaudhury, Ece Bayram, Carla Abdelnour, Elie Matar, Shannon Chiu, Daniel Ferreira, Calum Hamilton, Paul C. Donaghy, Federico Rodriguez-Porcel, Jon B. Toledo, Annegret Habich, Matthew J. Barrett, Bhavana Patel, Alberto Jaramillo-Jimenez, Gregory Scott, Joseph P.M. Kane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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This pragmatic review synthesises the current understanding of prodromal dementia with Lewy bodies (pDLB) and prodromal Alzheimer’s disease (pAD), including clinical presentations, neuropsychological profiles, neuropsychiatric symptoms, biomarkers, and indications for disease management. The core clinical features of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)—parkinsonism, complex visual hallucinations, cognitive fluctuations, and REM sleep behaviour disorder are common prodromal symptoms. Supportive clinical features of pDLB include severe neuroleptic sensitivity, as well as autonomic and neuropsychiatric symptoms. The neuropsychological profile in mild cognitive impairment attributable to Lewy body pathology (MCI-LB) tends to include impairment in visuospatial skills and executive functioning, distinguishing it from MCI due to AD, which typically presents with impairment in memory. pDLB may present with cognitive impairment, psychiatric symptoms, and/or recurrent episodes of delirium, indicating that it is not necessarily synonymous with MCI-LB. Imaging, fluid and other biomarkers may play a crucial role in differentiating pDLB from pAD. The current MCI-LB criteria recognise low dopamine transporter uptake using positron emission tomography or single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), loss of REM atonia on polysomnography, and sympathetic cardiac denervation using meta-iodobenzylguanidine SPECT as indicative biomarkers with slowing of dominant frequency on EEG among others as supportive biomarkers. This review also highlights the emergence of fluid and skin-based biomarkers. There is little research evidence for the treatment of pDLB, but pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for DLB may be discussed with patients. Non-pharmacological interventions such as diet, exercise, and cognitive stimulation may provide benefit, while evaluation and management of contributing factors like medications and sleep disturbances are vital. There is a need to expand research across diverse patient populations to address existing disparities in clinical trial participation. In conclusion, an early and accurate diagnosis of pDLB or pAD presents an opportunity for tailored interventions, improved healthcare outcomes, and enhanced quality of life for patients and care partners.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurology and Therapy
Early online date08 May 2024
Publication statusEarly online date - 08 May 2024


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