Abstract

It was hypothesized that subjective memory complaints represent the earliest sign of dementia in carriers of the presenilin-1 (PS1) mutation. A total of 122 subjects (44 males, 78 females) were included in this study. Forty of them were positive for the mutation in the PS1 gene (mutation positive, MP) whereas 82 showed negative results (mutation negative, MN). Subjects were active, functionally normal, even though some of them complained of memory difficulties. Two groups of neuropsychological instruments were administered: (a) The Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD) neuropsychological test battery (Morris et al., 1989), and (b) some additional neuropsychological tests (Raven Test, Wechsler Memory Scale, Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure, Boston Naming Test, Naming of Categories, Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination, Memory of Three Phrases, Knopman Test, Digit Symbol, and Visual “A” Cancellation Test). Performance in both groups was quite similar. In a secondary analysis, the MP group was subdivided into two subgroups: without and with memory complaints. When comparing both subgroups, a better performance in the first subgroup was found throughout the different subtests. Statistically significant differences were observed in the following test scores: Mini-Mental State Examination, Naming Test (Low Frequency), Memory of Words Test, Recall of Drawings, Wechsler Memory Scale (Logical Memory, Associative Learning, and Total Score), Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure (Immediate Recall Condition), Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination (Complex Ideational Material Subtest), Memory of Three Phrases Test, Serial Verbal Learning (maximum score and Delayed Recall), Knopman Test (First Trial, Second Trial, and Recall after 5 Minutes), Digit Symbol, and Visual “A” Cancellation Test (Additions). Results supported the hypothesis that memory complaints represent the earliest symptom of familial Alzheimer's disease. In addition to the memory difficulties, other minor cognitive impairments were also found, particularly, mild anomia, concentration difficulties and defects in the understanding of complex verbal material.