Characterization of symptoms and determinants of disease burden in dementia with Lewy bodies: DEvELOP design and baseline results

M van de Beek, I van Steenoven, J J van der Zande, I Porcelijn, F Barkhof, C J Stam, P G H M Raijmakers, P Scheltens, C E Teunissen, W M van der Flier, A W Lemstra

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BACKGROUND: The DEmEntia with LEwy bOdies Project (DEvELOP) aims to phenotype patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and study the symptoms and biomarkers over time. Here, we describe the design and baseline results of DEvELOP. We investigated the associations between core and suggestive DLB symptoms and different aspects of disease burden, i.e., instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) functioning, quality of life (QoL), and caregiver burden.

METHODS: We included 100 DLB patients (69 ± 6 years, 10%F, MMSE 25 ± 3) in the prospective DEvELOP cohort. Patients underwent extensive assessment including MRI, EEG/MEG, 123FP-CIT SPECT, and CSF and blood collection, with annual follow-up. Core (hallucinations, parkinsonism, fluctuations, RBD) and suggestive (autonomous dysfunction, neuropsychiatric symptoms) symptoms were assessed using standardized questionnaires. We used multivariate regression analyses, adjusted for age, sex, and MMSE, to evaluate how symptoms related to the Functional Activities Questionnaire, QoL-AD questionnaire, and Zarit Caregiver Burden Interview.

RESULTS: In our cohort, RBD was the most frequently reported core feature (75%), while visual hallucinations were least frequently reported (39%) and caused minimal distress. Suggestive clinical features were commonly present, of which orthostatic hypotension was most frequently reported (64%). Ninety-five percent of patients showed EEG/MEG abnormalities, 88% of 123FP-CIT SPECT scans were abnormal, and 53% had a CSF Alzheimer's disease profile. Presence of fluctuations, lower MMSE, parkinsonism, and apathy were associated with higher IADL dependency. Depression, constipation, and lower IADL were associated with lower QoL-AD. Apathy and higher IADL dependency predisposed for higher caregiver burden.

CONCLUSION: Baseline data of our prospective DLB cohort show clinically relevant associations between symptomatology and disease burden. Cognitive and motor symptoms are related to IADL functioning, while negative neuropsychiatric symptoms and functional dependency are important determinants of QoL and caregiver burden. Follow-up is currently ongoing to address specific gaps in DLB research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Pages (from-to)53
JournalAlzheimer's Research & Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Caregiver burden
  • Clinical manifestation
  • Dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Disease burden
  • IADL
  • Quality of life

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