Does the Right Focal Variant of Alzheimer's Disease Really Exist? A Literature Analysis

Carlo Abbate, Pietro D. Trimarchi, Silvia Inglese, Sarah Damanti, Giulia A.M. Dolci, Simona Ciccone, Paolo D. Rossi, Daniela Mari, Beatrice Arosio, Renzo Bagarolo, Fabrizio Giunco, Matteo Cesari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a clinically heterogeneous disease. Multiple atypical syndromes, distinct from the usual amnesic phenotype, have been described. In this context, the existence of a right variant of AD (RAD), characterized by enduring visuospatial impairment associated with right-sided asymmetric brain damage, has been proposed. However, to date, this phenotype remains controversial. In particular, its peculiar characteristics and the independence from more prevalent cases (especially the posterior cortical atrophy syndrome) have to be demonstrated. Objective: To explore the existence of focal RAD on the basis of existing literature. Methods: We performed a literature search for the description of atypical AD presentations, potentially evoking cases of focal RAD. To be considered as affected by RAD, the described cases had to present: 1) well documented right-sided asymmetry at neuroimaging; 2) predominant cognitive deficits localizable on the right hemisphere; 3) no specific diagnosis of a known variant of AD. Results: Twenty-one cases were found in the literature, but some of them were subsequently excluded because some features of a different clinical syndrome were overlapped with the clinical features of RAD. Thirteen positive cases, three of them with pathologically confirmed AD, remained. A common right clinical-radiological syndrome, characterized by memory and visuospatial impairment with temporal and parietal involvement, consistently emerged. However, the heterogeneity among the reports prevented a definitive and univocal description of the syndrome. Conclusion: Even if sporadic observations strongly support the existence of a focal RAD, no definitive conclusions can still be drawn about it as an independent condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-420
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • cognitive manifestations
  • left right asymmetry
  • right Alzheimer's disease
  • right hemisphere
  • syndromic diversity
  • variant of Alzheimer's disease
  • visuospatial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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