While NFT frequency is reportedly reduced in AD+DLB, we often encounter abundant neocortical NFTs in such cases and decided to investigate this discrepancy.
To compare neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) frequency in Alzheimer disease with concomitant dementia with Lewy bodies (AD+DLB) with NFT frequency in "pure" AD.
Neurofibrillary tangle frequency, as well as regional staging of neurofibrillary degeneration modified from Braak, was scored in 160 autopsy cases of primary dementia (80 AD+DLB cases and 80 pure AD cases).
Neurofibrillary tangle and modified Braak scores were lower in AD+DLB, as reported previously. Yet, neocortical NFT scores assumed markedly different patterns in the 2 groups (P=.001). In pure AD, NFT scores of "frequent" were predominant: more cases exhibited frequent than moderate or sparse NFTs. In AD+DLB, the distribution of NFT scores was bimodal: NFTs were either frequent or few to absent. Neocortical NFT scores in the AD+DLB group tended to parallel the severity of other types of tau cytopathology (neuropil threads and tau-positive plaque neurites).
Cases of AD+DLB may be divided into 2 subgroups based on the extent of neocortical neurofibrillary pathology. These findings could have implications for disease pathogenesis and treatment.