Two distinct pathological substrates associated with MMSE-pentagons item deficit in DLB and AD

Luca Beretta, Silvia Paola Caminiti, Roberto Santangelo, Giuseppe Magnani, Francesca Ferrari-Pellegrini, Paolo Caffarra, Daniela Perani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) is characterized by a prominent deficit in visuospatial abilities. Visuospatial impairment is also detectable in the course of Alzheimer's dementia (AD). However, visuospatial impairment presents some differences in these two conditions, suggesting pathological involvement of distinct brain circuits. Recent studies applied a new method to score the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) pentagon copy subtest, namely the Qualitative Scoring Pentagon Test (QSPT), which is a sensitive measure of visuospatial abilities. Using [18F]fluorodeoxy-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), we assessed the relationship between in vivo brain metabolic dysfunction and visuospatial deficits, in terms of QSPT total value, in DLB and AD. Materials and methods: Sixty Patients were diagnosed as DLB (n = 35) and AD (n = 25) dementia according with the standard research diagnostic criteria. Each patient underwent a FDG-PET scan as support for the final diagnosis. Patients underwent an extended neuropsychological evaluation, including MMSE, language, memory, executive functions and visuospatial abilities tests. The MMSE QSPT scoring was calculated following the methods by Caffarra et al. (2013). Offline voxel-wise correlation analysis between QSPT total scores and FDG-PET brain metabolism was then performed, correcting for MMSE, sex and disease duration. Results: Both groups presented reduced visuospatial performances, as assessed by QSPT scores. DLB compared to AD showed a statistically significant difference in QSPT rotation parameter (p = 0.022). In DLB, worse performance at QSPT total score, i.e. more severe visuospatial impairment, correlated with brain occipital hypometabolism (i.e. lateral occipital cortex, calcarine cortex, fusiform and lingual gyri). In AD, worse performance at QSPT total score correlated with brain hypometabolism in the right parietal cortex (i.e. superior and inferior parietal cortex and angular gyrus). Discussion: These findings reveal that visuospatial deficits may derive from distinct brain alterations in AD and DLB. We propose that the inabilities to perform correctly the QSPT task is related to altered visuoperceptual process in DLB, and visuospatial process in AD. This is consistent with our results showing hypometabolism in brain system related to visuoperceptual processing, namely the occipital cortex in DLB, and visuospatial processing, namely parietal cortex in AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107174
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Alzheimer's dementia
  • Copy of pentagons
  • Dementia with lewy bodies
  • Visuoconstructive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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