Apathy and anxiety are early markers of Alzheimer's disease.
In this study, we investigated associations between neuropsychiatric symptoms (i.e., apathy, anxiety, and depression) and cerebral atrophy, white matter lesions (WML), beta-amyloid (Aβ) deposition, and cognitive decline in a nondemented sample. 104 cognitively unimpaired and 53 subjects with mild cognitive impairment were followed for up to 4 years within the Swedish BioFINDER study.
Neuropsychiatric assessments included the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Apathy Evaluation Scale. Magnetic resonance imaging and 18F-flutemetamol-positron emission tomography quantified brain atrophy, WML, and Aβ deposition. Mini-Mental State Examination assessed longitudinal global cognition. Regression analyses were used to test for associations. Apathy and anxiety were shown related to Aβ deposition and predicted cognitive decline. Anxiety also interacted with amyloid status to predict faster cognitive deterioration. Apathy was further related to frontotemporal and subcortical atrophy, as well as WML. To conclude, the associations between apathy and anxiety with Aβ deposition and cognitive decline point to these symptoms as early clinical manifestations of Alzheimer's disease.