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EEG alpha reactivity and cholinergic system integrity in Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

EEG alpha reactivity and cholinergic system integrity in Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Authors: 
Julia Schumacher, Alan J. Thomas, Luis R. Peraza, Michael Firbank, Ruth Cromarty, Calum A. Hamilton, Paul C. Donaghy, John T. O’Brien & John-Paul Taylor
Year: 
2020
Journal: 
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy
Abstract: 

Background Lewy body dementia (LBD), which includes dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD), is characterised by marked deficits within the cholinergic system which are more severe than in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and are mainly caused by degeneration of the nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) whose widespread cholinergic projections provide the main source of cortical cholinergic innervation. EEG alpha reactivity, which refers to the reduction in alpha power over occipital electrodes upon opening the eyes, has been suggested as a potential marker of cholinergic system integrity.

Methods Eyes-open and eyes-closed resting state EEG data were recorded from 41 LBD patients (including 24 patients with DLB and 17 with PDD), 21 patients with AD, and 40 age-matched healthy controls. Alpha reactivity was calculated as the relative reduction in alpha power over occipital electrodes when opening the eyes. Structural MRI data were used to assess volumetric changes within the NBM using a probabilistic anatomical map.

Results Alpha reactivity was reduced in AD and LBD patients compared to controls with a significantly greater reduction in LBD compared to AD. Reduced alpha reactivity was associated with smaller volumes of the NBM across all groups (ρ = 0.42, pFDR = 0.0001) and in the PDD group specifically (ρ = 0.66, pFDR = 0.01).

Conclusions We demonstrate that LBD patients show an impairment in alpha reactivity upon opening the eyes which distinguishes this form of dementia from AD. Furthermore, our results suggest that reduced alpha reactivity might be related to a loss of cholinergic drive from the NBM, specifically in PDD.

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