What is the definition of Lewy Body Dementia?
Lewy body dementia is one of the most common forms of progressive dementia. People affected by this condition may experience a variety of symptoms such as changes in alertness and attention; hallucinations; problems with movement and posture; muscle stiffness; confusion; and/or memory loss. Although the exact cause of Lewy body dementia is poorly understood, symptoms are thought to result when clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein ("Lewy bodies") accumulate in the brain. Lewy body dementia usually occurs sporadically in people with no family history of the condition. Rarely, more than one family member may be affected. There is currently no cure for Lewy body dementia; however, medications may be available to help manage the associated symptoms.
What are the alternative names for Lewy Body Dementia?
- Lewy body disease
- Diffuse Lewy body disease
- Autosomal dominant diffuse Lewy body disease
What are the causes for Lewy Body Dementia?
The exact underlying cause of Lewy body dementia is poorly understood. The symptoms of the condition are thought to occur when clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein accumulate in the regions of the brain involved in thinking, memory and movement. The build-up of these clumps (which are called "Lewy bodies") appears to be associated with a loss of certain neurons (nerve cells) in the brain that produce two important neurotransmitters (chemicals that act as messengers between brain cells). The neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, is important for memory and learning. The other, dopamine, plays an important role in behavior, cognition, movement, motivation, sleep, and mood.
Although Lewy body dementia usually occurs sporadically, more than one family member can rarely be affected. Studies of these families suggest that there may be a genetic component to the condition in some cases. For example, copy number variants or changes (mutations) in the SNCA gene have been reported in a few affected families. The APOE ε4 allele and mutations in the GBA gene have been associated with an increased risk of Lewy body dementia and the APOE ε2 allele with a decreased risk.
What are the current treatments for Lewy Body Dementia?
The Lewy Body Dementia Association offers detailed and up-to-date information regarding the treatment and management of Lewy body dementia. Please click on the link to access this resource.
Is Lewy Body Dementia an inherited disorder?
Most cases of Lewy body dementia are not thought to be inherited. The condition generally occurs sporadically in people with no family history of the condition.
Rarely, the condition can affect more than one family member. Some of these cases appear to be due to single gene changes (mutations) that follow an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Other familial cases do not follow a specific pattern of inheritance and likely have a multifactorial cause (associated with the effects of multiple genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors).