Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is common in early Parkinson's disease (PD). We evaluated the stability of PD-MCI over time to determine its clinical utility as a marker of disease. Methods
212 newly diagnosed participants with PD were recruited into a longitudinal study and reassessed after 18 and 36 months. Participants completed a range of clinical and neuropsychological assessments. PD-MCI was classified using Movement Disorders Society Task Force level I (Montreal Cognitive Assessment <26) and level II (using cut-offs of 1, 1.5 and 2SD) criteria.
After 36 months, 75% of participants returned; 8% of patients had developed a dementia all of which were previously PD-MCI. Applying level I criteria, 70% were cognitively stable, 19% cognitively declined and 11% improved over 36 months. Applying level II criteria (1, 1.5 and 2SD), 25% were cognitively stable, 41% cognitively declined, 15% improved and 19% fluctuated over 36 months. 18% of participants reverted to normal cognition from PD-MCI.
Cognitive impairment in PD is complex, with some individuals' function fluctuating over time and some reverting to normal cognition. PD-MCI level I criteria may have greater clinical convenience, but more comprehensive level II criteria with 2SD cut-offs may offer greater diagnostic certainty.