Epilepsy in Neurodegenerative Dementias: A Clinical, Epidemiological, and EEG Study

Dario Arnaldi, Andrea Donniaquio, Pietro Mattioli, Federico Massa, Matteo Grazzini, Riccardo Meli, Laura Filippi, Stefano Grisanti, Francesco Famà, Michele Terzaghi, Nicola Girtler, Andrea Brugnolo, Elisa Doglione, Matteo Pardini, Flavio Villani, Flavio Nobili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Seizures are common in patients with dementia but precise epidemiologic data of epilepsy in neurodegenerative dementia is lacking.

OBJECTIVE: The first aim of the study was to investigate prevalence and clinical characteristics of epilepsy in a large cohort of patients with neurodegenerative dementias. Subsequently, we explored clinical, neuropsychological, and quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) data of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients with epilepsy (AD-EPI) as compared to AD patients without epilepsy (AD-CTR).

METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated consecutive patients with a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative dementia and a clinically diagnosed epilepsy that required antiepileptic drugs (AED). All patients underwent baseline comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. A follow-up of at least one year was requested to confirm the dementia diagnosis. In AD patients, qEEG power band analysis was performed. AD-CTR and AD-EPI patients were matched for age, Mini-Mental State Examination score, and gender.

RESULTS: Thirty-eight out of 2,054 neurodegenerative dementia patients had epilepsy requiring AED. The prevalence of epilepsy was 1.82% for AD, 1.28% for the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), 2.47% for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and 12% for primary progressive aphasia. Epilepsy were more drug-responsive in AD than in non-AD dementias. Finally, no significant differences were found in neuropsychological and qEEG data between AD-EPI and AD-CTR patients.

CONCLUSION: In our cohort, AD, FTD, and DLB dementias have similar prevalence of epilepsy, even if AD patients were more responsive to AED. Moreover, AD-EPI patients did not have significant clinical, neuropsychological qEEG differences compared with AD-CTR patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-74
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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