Trajectory of Unawareness of Memory Decline in Individuals With Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer Disease

Patrizia Vannini, Bernard J. Hanseeuw, Jennifer R. Gatchel, Sietske A. M. Sikkes, Diana Alzate, Yesica Zuluaga, Sonia Moreno, Luis Mendez, Ana Baena, Paula Ospina-Lopera, Victoria Tirado, Eliana Henao, Natalia Acosta-Baena, Margarita Giraldo, Francisco Lopera, Yakeel T. Quiroz

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Importance: Recent studies have suggested that unawareness, or anosognosia, of memory decline is present in predementia stages of Alzheimer disease (AD) and may serve as an early symptomatic indicator of AD. Objective: To investigate the evolution of anosognosia of memory decline in individuals who carry the PSEN1 E280A variant for autosomal dominant AD compared with family members who do not carry the variant. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study investigated a total of 2379 members of a Colombian kindred with autosomal dominant AD who were part of the Alzheimer's Prevention Initiative Registry. Assessments were completed at the University of Antioquia, Colombia, with data collected between January 1, 2000, and July 31, 2019. Main Outcomes and Measures: Awareness of memory function was operationalized using the discrepancy between self-report and study partner report on a memory complaint scale. Linear mixed effects models were used to assess memory self-awareness over age separately in variant carriers and noncarriers. Results: This study included 396 variant carriers (mean [SD] age, 32.7 [11.9] years; 200 [50.5%] female), of whom 59 (14.9%) were cognitively impaired, and 1983 cognitively unimpaired noncarriers (mean [SD] age, 33.5 [12.5] years; 1129 [56.9%] female). The variant carriers demonstrated increased awareness until the mean (SD) age of 35.0 (2.0) years and had anosognosia at approximately 43 years of age, approximately 6 years before their estimated median age of dementia onset (49 years; 95% CI, 49-51 years). Cognitively unimpaired noncarriers reported more complaints than their study partners aged 20 and 60 years (10.1 points, P < .001). On the awareness index, a decrease with age (mean [SE] estimate, -0.04 [0.02] discrepant-points per years; t = -2.2; P = .03) in the noncarriers and in the variant carriers (mean [SE] estimate, -0.21 [0.04] discrepant-points per years; t = -5.1; P < .001) was observed. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, increased participant complaints were observed in both groups, suggesting that increased awareness of memory function was common and nonspecific to AD in this cohort. In variant carriers, awareness of memory function decreased in the predementia stages, reaching anosognosia close to the age of mild cognitive impairment onset, providing support for the usefulness of awareness of memory decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2027472
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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