Mild behavioral impairment: A prodromal stage of dementia

Fernando E Taragano, Ricardo F Allegri, Constantine Lyketsos
Dementia & Neuropsychologia 2008, 2 (4): 256-260
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was defined by Petersen et al. (1999) as progressive memory loss, a prodrome of Alzheimer's disease. MCI is a well-established entity that can be both a diagnosis in medical practice and a valid target of Alzheimer's prevention therapy. More recently MCI has expanded to include other cognitive domains with other potential causes: amnestic MCI, multiple domains MCI, and single domain non-amnestic MCI. Behavioral symptoms in MCI are associated with a higher risk of dementia, but their association with dementia risk in patients without MCI is unknown. The objective of our paper was to address the question of whether aging patients with behavioral symptoms with or without cognitive impairment represent a population at risk for dementia. Mild Behavioral Impairment (MBI) defines a late life syndrome with prominent psychiatric and related behavioral symptoms in the absence of major cognitive symptoms. MBI also appears to be a transitional state between normal aging and dementia. MBI may carry a higher risk for dementia than MCI. A subgroup of MBI patients is likely to exhibit symptoms of a frontotemporal dementia (FTD) prodrome. We proposed 4 subtypes of patients at risk for dementia: amnestic MCI (which is said to progress preferentially to Alzheimer's disease), multiple domain MCI (which may represent normal aging or may progress to vascular cognitive impairment or a neurodegenerative disorder), single domain non-amnestic MCI, and MBI (which may progress to frontotemporal dementia, Lewy Body dementia or Alzheimer's disease). We concluded that MBI is a counterpart of MCI as a transitional state between normal aging and dementia. These findings have implications for early detection, prevention, and treatment of patients with late-life dementia.

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