A clinicopathological study of selected cognitive impairment cases in Lothian, Scotland: enhanced CJD surveillance in the 65 + population group

Lovney Kanguru, Gemma Logan, Briony Waddel, Colin Smith, Anna Molesworth, Richard Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) is primarily associated with dietary exposure to bovine-spongiform-encephalopathy. Cases may be missed in the elderly population where dementia is common with less frequent referral to specialist neurological services. This study's twin aims were to determine the feasibility of a method to detect possible missed cases in the elderly population and to identify any such cases.

METHODS: A multi-site study was set-up in Lothian in 2016, to determine the feasibility of enhanced CJD-surveillance in the 65 + population-group, and undertake a clinicopathological investigation of patients with features of 'atypical' dementia.

RESULTS: Thirty patients are included; 63% male, 37% female. They were referred because of at least one neurological feature regarded as 'atypical' (for the common dementing illnesses): cerebellar ataxia, rapid progression, or somato-sensory features. Mean-age at symptom-onset (66 years, range 53-82 years), the time between onset-of-symptoms and referral to the study (7 years, range 1-13 years), and duration-of-illness from onset-of-symptoms until death or the censor-date (9.5 years, range 1.1-17.4 years) were determined. By the censor-date, 9 cases were alive and 21 had died. Neuropathological investigations were performed on 10 cases, confirming: Alzheimer's disease only (2 cases), mixed Alzheimer's disease with Lewy bodies (2 cases), mixed Alzheimer's disease with amyloid angiopathy (1 case), moderate non-amyloid small vessel angiopathy (1 case), a non-specific neurodegenerative disorder (1 case), Parkinson's disease with Lewy body dementia (1 case), and Lewy body dementia (2 cases). No prion disease cases of any type were detected.

CONCLUSION: The surveillance approach used was well received by the local clinicians and patients, though there were challenges in recruiting sufficient cases; far fewer than expected were identified, referred, and recruited. Further research is required to determine how such difficulties might be overcome. No missed cases of vCJD were found. However, there remains uncertainty whether this is because missed cases are very uncommon or because the study had insufficient power to detect them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jul 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease/diagnosis
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome/diagnosis
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease
  • Male
  • Population Groups
  • Population Surveillance
  • Scotland/epidemiology


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