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Open Access Review

Can we clinically diagnose dementia with Lewy bodies yet?

Yue Huang and Glenda Halliday*

Author Affiliations

Neuroscience Research Australia, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2031, Australia

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Translational Neurodegeneration 2013, 2:4  doi:10.1186/2047-9158-2-4

Published: 11 February 2013

Abstract

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) was initially identified and confirmed primarily by pathology, but is soon to be incorporated into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria as a clinical disease entity. Despite these advances over more than 20 years, current data suggest that the sensitivity of accurate clinical diagnosis of DLB is still very low, although there is mounting evidence that supportive features may increase diagnostic accuracy. Although DLB remains easy to identify pathologically with different cellular pathologies differentiating it from other dementia syndromes, pathological identification using only Lewy body pathology has been shown to be inaccurate due to overlap with patients without dementia symptoms. A number of studies now suggest that a combination of cellular pathologies, which include α-synuclein and β-amyloid deposition as well as dopamine denervation, assist with differentiating this dementia syndrome from others. The clinical and pathological overlap with the tauopathy of Alzheimer’s disease still remains to be clarified. To determine more robust and independent clinicopathological correlates from Alzheimer’s disease, longitudinal prospective studies, using specific clinical batteries on dementia patients reaching the proposed criteria for DLB, with post-mortem assessment of the multiple pathologies associated with dementia, are required. Identifying genetic causes for DLB is another approach to investigate the pathogenesis of DLB. However this approach has been hindered to date by difficulties with identifying DLB clinically. The use of novel techniques is likely to advance knowledge on the pathogenesis of DLB and assist with redefining clinical and pathologic diagnostic criteria. To achieve the goal of more accurate clinical diagnosis of DLB, breakthroughs are necessary on the pathogenesis of DLB.

Keywords:
Dementia with Lewy bodies; Diagnosis; Genetics; Pathogenesis; Pathology