18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography Cortical Metabolic Activity Associated with Distinct Agitation Behaviors in Alzheimer Disease

Gali H. Weissberger, Rebecca J. Melrose, Theresa A. Narvaez, Dylan Harwood, Mark A. Mandelkern, David L. Sultzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective This study aimed to investigate the neurobiologic correlates of two distinct clusters of agitation symptoms to identify the unique biologic substrates underlying agitated behaviors. Methods Eighty-eight outpatients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (AD) were recruited from the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System Geropsychiatry Outpatient Program. A cross-sectional investigation was conducted of the relationship between cerebral glucose metabolism measured via 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography and agitated symptoms from the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) in patients with AD. Two empirically derived clusters of agitation symptoms were investigated: an Agitation factor comprising agitation/aggression and irritability/lability items of the NPI, and a Behavioral Dyscontrol factor comprising elation/euphoria, disinhibition, aberrant motor behavior, sleep, and appetite items of the NPI. Mean cerebral metabolism for patients who scored positively on each of the two factors was compared with mean cerebral metabolism for those who did not. Results Patients with AD who scored positively on the Agitation factor showed reduced glucose metabolism of the right temporal, right frontal, and bilateral cingulate cortex. In contrast, the Behavioral Dyscontrol factor did not show specific neurobiologic correlates. Conclusion Symptoms encompassed within the Agitation factor have distinct neurobiologic underpinnings. The precipitants, course, and outcomes related to these symptoms may be unique from other neuropsychiatric symptoms characteristic of AD. Special attention to treatment of agitated behaviors involving anger, aggressiveness, hostility, and irritability/emotional lability is warranted, because they appear to reflect a clinically relevant symptom cluster with unique underlying neurobiologic correlates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-579
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Alzheimer disease
  • agitation
  • cerebral metabolism


Dive into the research topics of '18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography Cortical Metabolic Activity Associated with Distinct Agitation Behaviors in Alzheimer Disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this