Rapidly Progressive Alzheimer's Disease: Contributions to Clinical-Pathological Definition and Diagnosis

Samir Abu-Rumeileh, Sabina Capellari, Piero Parchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Rapidly progressive Alzheimer's disease (rpAD) has recently been recognized as a clinical disease subtype characterized by rapidly progressive cognitive decline and/or short disease duration, and the possible occurrence of early focal neurological signs. Consistently, rpAD represents a relatively frequent alternative diagnosis among cases referred as possible or probable Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) to surveillance centers for prion disease worldwide. Indeed, the early clinical differential diagnosis between the two disorders can be challenging given the partial overlap in clinical features and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of the protein surrogate markers 14-3-3 and total-tau. Although typical AD and rpAD seem to share the neuropathological core features, recent evidence suggests that a distinctive molecular signature involving the structure of amyloid-β aggregates and the proteomic landscape of amyloid plaques may distinguish rpAD from typical AD. Here we review clinical, neuropathological, and molecular features and diagnostic findings, including CSF biomarker data, reported to date in rpAD. Furthermore, we summarize the main clinical, pathological and laboratory features of 27 autopsy confirmed cases of rpAD referred to our center. The results of this retrospective analysis, while largely confirming previously published genetic, clinical, and neuropathological data, suggest a higher prevalence of moderate to severe cerebral amyloid angiopathy in rpAD compared to typical AD, a finding to explore further and validate in a larger patient group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-897
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Amyloid-β
  • biomarkers
  • cerebral amyloid angiopathy
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • human prions
  • tau protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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