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The severe cognitive impairment that affects many of the elderly schizophrenic patients could represent the outcome of schizophrenia in old age for the very severe and chronically ill patients or may be the result of lengthy institutionalization and somatic treatment. Alternatively, it could be due to the presence of concurrent dementing disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) or multi-infarct dementia. Using an identical neuropathological protocol, brain specimens from schizophrenic patients who showed evidence of severe cognitive impairment were compared with 12 age-matched control cases and the same number of age-matched cases of neuropathologically confirmed patients with AD. Despite their relatively advanced age (mean age 77.1 years ± 2.8), none of the schizophrenia cases showed sufficient degree of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangle formations to confirm a diagnosis of AD. Other neurodegenerative disorders associated with dementia were also not identified. These studies suggest that alternative explanations need to be sought for the severe cognitive impairment commonly encountered in elderly schizophrenic patients.
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Received in revised form: November 1, 1992
Received: September 6, 1992
☆This work was supported by NIMH/MH grants 46436 and 45212 to Drs. Davidson and Davis.
© 1993 Published by Elsevier Inc.