J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 70:483-488 doi:10.1136/jnnp.70.4.483
  • Review

Pentagon copying is more impaired in dementia with Lewy bodies than in Alzheimer's disease

  1. T A Ala,
  2. L F Hughes,
  3. G A Kyrouac,
  4. M W Ghobrial,
  5. R J Elble
  1. Center for Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders, Department of Neurology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois, USA
  1. Dr T A Ala tala{at}
  • Received 12 June 2000
  • Revised 8 November 2000
  • Accepted 22 November 2000


OBJECTIVES In many cases the clinical differentiation of patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) from those with Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been difficult. Because many neuropsychological studies have reported greater visuospatial/constructional impairment in DLB than in AD, it was determined whether accuracy in copying the interlocking pentagons item on the mini mental state examination (MMSE) may be helpful in distinguishing patients with DLB from those with AD relatively early in the course of the dementia.

METHODS All cases of neuropathologically proved DLB and AD in the Center for Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders brain bank were retrospectively reviewed, and the first available MMSE for each was retrieved. Only patients with MMSE scores⩾13 were included, indicating mild to moderate dementia. The patients' copies of the interlocking pentagons were analyzed and graded as acceptable or unacceptable according to the original instructions for grading the MMSE.

RESULTS Seventeen patients with DLB and 27 patients with AD were identified for whom MMSE with copies of the interlocking pentagons were available. Two patients with DLB (MMSEs 22 and 27) drew the pentagons acceptably, by contrast with 16 of the patients with AD (MMSEs 13–28). An unacceptable copy was associated with DLB with a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 59% (p=0.002).

CONCLUSIONS For patients with MMSE scores⩾13, an inability to accurately copy the pentagons suggests that the diagnosis is more likely DLB than AD. The results confirm the work of others on visuospatial/constructional impairment in DLB and indicate that this feature may be helpful in its diagnosis.


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