Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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REVIEW
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 109-115

Progress in the last decade in our understanding of primary progressive aphasia


Department of Neurology, Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, India

Correspondence Address:
Ellajosyula Ratnavalli
Department of Neurology, Manipal Hospital, Bangalore - 560 017
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.74255

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Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a focal neurodegeneration of the brain affecting the language network. Patients can have isolated language impairment for years without impairment in other areas. PPA is classified as primary progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), semantic dementia (SD), and logopenic aphasia, which have distinct patterns of atrophy on neuroimaging. PNFA and SD are included under frontotemporal lobar degenerations. PNFA patients have effortful speech with agrammatism, which is frequently associated with apraxia of speech and demonstrate atrophy in the left Broca's area and surrounding region on neuroimaging. Patients with SD have dysnomia with loss of word and object (or face) meaning with asymmetric anterior temporal lobe atrophy. Logopenic aphasics have word finding difficulties with frequent pauses in conversation, intact grammar, and word comprehension but impaired repetition for sentences. The atrophy is predominantly in the left posterior temporal and inferior parietal regions. Recent studies have described several progranulin mutations on chromosome 17 in PNFA. The three clinical syndromes have a less robust relationship to the underlying pathology, which is heterogeneous and includes tauopathy, ubiquitinopathy, Pick's disease, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, and Alzheimer's disease. Recent studies, however, seem to indicate that a better characterization of the clinical phenotype (apraxic, agrammatic, semantic, logopenic, jargon) increases the predictive value of the underlying pathology. Substantial advances have been made in our understanding of PPAs but developing new biomarkers is essential in making accurate causative diagnoses in individual patients. This is critically important in the development and evaluation of disease-modifying drugs.


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