Does semantic memory impairment in amnestic MCI with hippocampal atrophy conform to a distinctive pattern of progression?

Davide Quaranta, Maria Gabriella Vita, Pietro Spinelli, Eugenia Scaricamazza, Diana Castelli, Giordano Lacidogna, Chiara Piccininni, Paolo Maria Rossini, Guido Gainotti, Camillo Marra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Subjects with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are normally classified according to the presence of episodic memory deficits associated or not to disturbances of other cognitive domains. The present study had two aims: to identify discrete subtypes of amnestic MCI (a-MCI) with hippocampal atrophy; and to assess if the identified subtypes show different rates of progression to dementia. Sixty-seven a-MCI subjects were enrolled, all showing significant hippocampal atrophy on MRI. The subjects underwent at baseline and at follow-up a comprehensive neuropsychological examination, and were followed-up for five years to detect the conversion to dementia. An exploratory factor analysis on neuropsychological performances at baseline identified three main factors that were subsequently used to perform a k-means cluster analysis. Three cluster of a-MCI subjects were identified: "pure amnestic" (N=29), "multiple domain"(N=16), and "amnestic/semantic"(N=22). The successive discriminant functions were able to correctly classify 88% of the subjects. During the follow-up, 33 subjects converted to dementia (49.2%), 14 "pure amnestic" (48.3%), 11 "multiple domain" (68.5%) and 8 "amnestic/semantic" (36.4%; log-rank: p=0.016); median survival was respectively 36, 22, and 39 months. On Cox proportional hazard model, baseline MMSE (HR=0,709; p=0.006), education (HR=1,115; p=0.011) and belonging to the "multiple domain" subgroup (HR=2,706; p=0.013) were significantly associated to higher rate of conversion to dementia. Our findings confirm the tendency to worst outcome of subjects with multiple domain MCI, and show that the association of episodic and semantic memory deficits, without other cognitive disturbances, could identify a specific cognitive pattern associated to slower cognitive decline, as previously reported in Alzheimer's Disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-407
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Alzheimer Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Episodic memory
  • Factor analysis
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Neuropsychology
  • Semantic memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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