Neuropsychiatric subsyndromes and brain metabolic network dysfunctions in early onset Alzheimer's disease

Tommaso Ballarini, Leonardo Iaccarino, Giuseppe Magnani, Nagehan Ayakta, Bruce L. Miller, William J. Jagust, Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini, Gil D. Rabinovici, Daniela Perani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPSs) often occur in early-age-of-onset Alzheimer's disease (EOAD) and cluster into sub-syndromes (SSy). The aim of this study was to investigate the association between 18F-FDG-PET regional and connectivity-based brain metabolic dysfunctions and neuropsychiatric SSy. NPSs were assessed in 27 EOAD using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and further clustered into four SSy (apathetic, hyperactivity, affective, and psychotic SSy). Eighty-five percent of EOAD showed at least one NPS. Voxel-wise correlations between SSy scores and brain glucose metabolism (assessed with 18F-FDG positron emission tomography) were studied. Interregional correlation analysis was used to explore metabolic connectivity in the salience (aSN) and default mode networks (DMN) in a larger sample of EOAD (N = 51) and Healthy Controls (N = 57). The apathetic, hyperactivity, and affective SSy were highly prevalent (>60%) as compared to the psychotic SSy (33%). The hyperactivity SSy scores were associated with increase of glucose metabolism in frontal and limbic structures, implicated in behavioral control. A comparable positive correlation with part of the same network was found for the affective SSy scores. On the other hand, the apathetic SSy scores were negatively correlated with metabolism in the bilateral orbitofrontal and dorsolateral frontal cortex known to be involved in motivation and decision-making processes. Consistent with these SSy regional correlations with brain metabolic dysfunction, the connectivity analysis showed increases in the aSN and decreases in the DMN. Behavioral abnormalities in EOAD are associated with specific dysfunctional changes in brain metabolic activity, in particular in the aSN that seems to play a crucial role in NPSs in EOAD. Hum Brain Mapp 37:4234–4247, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4234 - 4247
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


  • early onset Alzheimer's Disease
  • frontal lobe
  • functional networks
  • metabolic connectivity
  • neuropsychiatric subsyndromes
  • positron-emission tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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