Neurological Sciences

, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 1377–1382 | Cite as

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 LiguoriEmail author
Original Article


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-amyloid42 (Aβ42) 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/Aβ42 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/Aβ42 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.


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


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Fondazione Società Italiana di Neurologia 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugenia Scaricamazza
    • 1
  • Isabella Colonna
    • 2
  • Giulia Maria Sancesario
    • 3
  • Francesca Assogna
    • 4
    • 5
  • Maria Donata Orfei
    • 5
  • Flaminia Franchini
    • 1
    • 5
  • Giuseppe Sancesario
    • 1
  • Nicola Biagio Mercuri
    • 1
    • 5
  • Claudio Liguori
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Neurology Unit, Department of Systems MedicineUniversity of Rome “Tor Vergata”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyMedical University of GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.Clinical and Behavioral NeurologySanta Lucia FoundationRomeItaly
  4. 4.Centro Fermi - Museo Storico della Fisica e Centro Studi e Ricerche “Enrico Fermi”RomeItaly
  5. 5.IRCSS Fondazione Santa LuciaRomeItaly

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