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June 1990

Alzheimer's DiseaseAge at Onset and Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomographic Patterns of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow

Arch Neurol. 1990;47(6):628-633. doi:10.1001/archneur.1990.00530060036013

• We performed this study to determine whether early- and late-onset Alzheimer's disease differ physiologically. Ten patients with a presenile (before 65 years old) onset of the disease and 16 with senile onset of the disease were evaluated clinically and neuropsychologically and studied with single photon emission computed tomography using the blood flow tracer [123I]N-isopropyl-p-iodoamphetamine. Although the presenile subjects had more severe neuropsychological abnormalities in all realms of cognitive function, including language, and showed greater reductions in regional blood flow than the older patients, they were also more severely demented, thus complicating interpretation of the results. Two indexes of cerebral perfusion, a ratio of regional flow compared with occipital flow and a left-right asymmetry index, demonstrated relative left frontal hypoperfusion in presenile- but not senile-onset patients and did not appear to be an artifact of the severity differences. Although no asymmetry of cognitive function was noted, the perfusion asymmetry provides biological evidence for an alteration in left-hemisphere function in patients with the early onset of Alzheimer's disease.