Atypical form of Alzheimer's disease with prominent posterior cortical atrophy: a review of lesion distribution and circuit disconnection in cortical visual pathways.Vision Res 1997; 37(24):3609-25VR
In recent years, the existence of visual variants of Alzheimer's disease characterized by atypical clinical presentation at onset has been increasingly recognized. In many of these cases post-mortem neuropathological assessment revealed that correlations could be established between clinical symptoms and the distribution of neurodegenerative lesions. We have analyzed a series of Alzheimer's disease patients presenting with prominent visual symptomatology as a cardinal sign of the disease. In these cases, a shift in the distribution of pathological lesions was observed such that the primary visual areas and certain visual association areas within the occipito-parieto-temporal junction and posterior cingulate cortex had very high densities of lesions, whereas the prefrontal cortex had fewer lesions than usually observed in Alzheimer's disease. Previous quantitative analyses have demonstrated that in Alzheimer's disease, primary sensory and motor cortical areas are less damaged than the multimodal association areas of the frontal and temporal lobes, as indicated by the laminar and regional distribution patterns of neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques. The distribution of pathological lesions in the cerebral cortex of Alzheimer's disease cases with visual symptomatology revealed that specific visual association pathways were disrupted, whereas these particular connections are likely to be affected to a less severe degree in the more common form of Alzheimer's disease. These data suggest that in some cases with visual variants of Alzheimer's disease, the neurological symptomatology may be related to the loss of certain components of the cortical visual pathways, as reflected by the particular distribution of the neuropathological markers of the disease.