Neuropsychiatric symptoms differently affect mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease patients: a retrospective observational study

Eugenia Scaricamazza, Isabella Colonna, Giulia Maria Sancesario, Francesca Assogna, Maria Donata Orfei, Flaminia Franchini, Giuseppe Sancesario, Nicola Biagio Mercuri, Claudio Liguori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia characterized by the prevalent memory impairment. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may represent the early stage of AD, in particular when MCI patients show biomarkers consistent with AD pathology (MCI due to AD). Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) frequently affect both MCI and AD patients. Cerebrospinal-fluid (CSF) tau and β-amyloid 42 (Aβ 42 ) levels are actually considered the most sensitive and specific biomarkers for AD neurodegeneration. In the present retrospective observational study, we evaluated CSF biomarkers and neuropsychological data (also including NPS measured by the neuropsychiatric inventory—NPI) in a population of patients affected by MCI due to AD compared with mild to moderate AD patients. We documented higher NPI scores in MCI compared with AD patients. In particular, sub-items related to sleep, appetite, irritability, depression, and anxiety were higher in MCI than AD. We also found the significant correlation between NPS and CSF AD biomarkers in the whole population of MCI and AD patients. Consistently, t-tau/Aβ 42 ratio correlated with NPS in all the MCI and AD patients. These results suggest the more prevalent occurrence of NPS in MCI patients showing AD pathology and converting to dementia than AD patients. Moreover, a more significant degree of AD neurodegeneration, featured by high t-tau/Aβ 42 ratio, correlated with more severe NPS, thus supposing that in MCI and AD patients a more extensive AD neurodegeneration is related to more severe behavioral disturbances.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cognitive impairment
  • CSF biomarkers
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Neuropsychiatric symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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