Although psychosis is a defining feature of Lewy body disease, psychotic symptoms occur in a subset of patients with every major neurodegenerative disease. Few studies, however, have compared disease-related rates of psychosis prevalence in a large autopsy-based cohort, and it remains unclear how diseases differ with respect to the nature or content of the psychosis. We conducted a retrospective chart review of 372 patients with autopsy-confirmed neurodegenerative pathology: 111 with Alzheimer's disease, 59 with Lewy body disease and concomitant Alzheimer's disease, 133 with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with tau inclusions (including progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration or Pick's disease), and 69 with FTLD and TDP inclusions (FTLD-TDP, including types A-C). Psychosis content was classified by subtype, and the frequency of each subtype was compared among pathological diagnoses using logistic regression. A total of 111 of 372 patients had psychosis. Compared to other groups, patients with Lewy body disease/Alzheimer's disease pathology were significantly more likely to have hallucinations and were more likely to have more than one subtype of hallucination. Patients with Braak Parkinson stage 5-6 Lewy body disease were significantly more likely than those with no Lewy body disease to have visual hallucinations of misperception, peripheral hallucinations, hallucinations that moved, hallucinations of people/animals/objects, as well as delusions regarding a place and delusions of misidentification. The feeling of a presence occurred significantly more frequently in patients with Lewy body disease/Alzheimer's disease than all other pathologies. Patients with FTLD-TDP were significantly more likely to have delusions, and for the delusions to occur in the first 3 years of the disease, when compared to patients with Alzheimer's disease and FTLD-tau, though rates were not significantly greater than patients with Lewy body disease/Alzheimer's disease. Paranoia occurred more frequently in the FTLD-TDP and Lewy body disease/Alzheimer's disease categories compared to patients with Alzheimer's disease or FTLD-tau. Patients with FTLD-TDP pathology had delusions of misidentification as frequently as patients with Lewy body disease/Alzheimer's disease, and were significantly more likely to have self-elevating delusions such as grandiosity and erotomania compared to patients with other pathologies including FTLD-tau. These data show that the nature and content of psychosis can provide meaningful information about the underlying neurodegenerative pathology, emphasizing the importance of characterizing patients' psychoses for prediction of the neuropathological diagnosis, regardless of a patient's clinical syndrome.
- Lewy body disease
- frontotemporal dementia