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Alzheimer's Disease

Pick`s Disease

10/20/2006

Question:

I knew Pick`s disease was part of the dementia family, but I didn`t know the symptoms.  Any more information on this subject would be appreciated as I work with clients with Alzheimer`s. 

Answer:

Pick's disease is normally considered under the heading of the frontotemporal dementia (FTD) syndromes. FTD is not a single disease but rather the moniker for a heterogeneous group of disorders (including Pick's disease). These conditions are characterized by progressive behavioral and cognitive change with personality change or expressive language or naming impairment. The usual onset is between 45 and 70 years.

Three main forms are recognized: orbitofrontal syndrome, progressive non-fluent aphasia, and semantic dementia. Orbitofrontal syndrome is characterized by personality changes with disinhibition and apathy often before significant memory loss. Executive dysfunction (poor judgment and organization skills) with or without language impairment is common. Progressive non-fluent aphasia starts out with decreased word output and eventually progresses to no output in combination with executive dysfunction and memory loss. In semantic dementia they lose the meaning of words and have stereotyped verbal output.

In Pick's disease in particular, the pathology of the brain shows inflated brain cells (neurons) and abnormal protein inclusions in the neurons called Pick bodies. Tau proteins are the major component of these Pick bodies.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University