Early Onset and Atypical Alzheimer’s Disease

Purpose of the Study

Approximately 5% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) develop symptoms of AD before age 65, without a known genetic cause. In contrast with late-onset AD, these patients often have greater difficulties with executive function (planning, multitasking, organization), language or visual perception than with memory, and they may be diagnosed with syndromes such as posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), with primarily visuospatial symptoms or logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA), a form of primary progressive aphasia with specific language problems. The purpose of this study is to use comprehensive clinical evaluations, cerebrospinal fluid (optional) and genetic analyses, and MRI and PET imaging to improve understanding and diagnosis of these presentations of Alzheimer’s disease.

Study Details

This study involves four days of testing at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in San Francisco, California. These can be arranged consecutively or spread out over a period of weeks or months.

PET scans take place over an additional two days at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. There is no cost to participate in the study, but participants are responsible for their own travel expenses.

What to Expect

Components of the study include a neurological exam, extensive neuropsychological testing (including executive function, language, movement, social function and visuospatial testing), a blood draw for genetic research, a lumbar puncture for analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (optional), an MRI scan, an interview with a study partner who knows the participant well, a family history interview, and PET scans of glucose metabolism and deposition of proteins (amyloid and tau) associated with Alzheimer’s disease. A family conference is held at the end of the visit with researchers who have seen the participant throughout the study in order to discuss their impressions with the research participants and their families and answer any questions.

Once enrolled, a participant may be asked to return annually.

Contact Information

If you are interested in participating in this study or have any questions, please contact the study coordinator, Julie Pham, at Julie.Pham@ucsf.edu or 415.502.7133.