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A review on primary progressive aphasia

Authors Léger GC, Johnson N

Published 15 January 2008 Volume 2007:3(6) Pages 745—752


Gabriel C Léger1,2, Nancy Johnson3

1Neurology Service, Hôtel-Dieu du Centre Hospitalier de l’Univertité de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada; 2Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada; 3Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract: Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a neurodegenerative disease of insidious onset presenting with progressive isolated loss of language function, without significant impairment in other cognitive domains. Current diagnostic criteria require the language dysfunction to remain isolated for at least two years, and to remain the salient feature as the disease progresses, usually to involve other domains such as behavior, executive functions, and judgment. Although PPA in its early stages can usually be differentiated from probable Alzheimer’s disease (PRAD) and the behavioral variant of frontotemporal lobar degeneration by the absence of significant changes in memory and behavior, and the preservation of activities daily living, progression of the disease often leads to deficits more consistent with the latter. Underlying etiologies remain heterogeneous: the neuropathological characteristics associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration, cortocobasal degeneration, and motor neuron disease are usually found. There is a strong genetic susceptibility with affliction of first-degree relatives with similar disease in up to 40 to 50% in some series. Pathogenic mutations in genes coding for the proteins tau and progranulin have been isolated. These are leading to a better understanding of the neuropathological mechanisms and hopefully targeted disease-modifying therapy. Current therapy is limited to improving mood symptoms and targeting behavior changes as they develop. Referral to specialized centers where speech therapy, counseling, and education for both patient and caregiver are available may be helpful.

Keywords: primary progressive aphasia

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