The identification of pathological subtypes of Alzheimer's disease using cluster analysis

Richard A. Armstrong*, L. Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A culster analysis was performed on 78 cases of Alzheimer's disease (AD) to identify possible pathological subtypes of the disease. Data on 47 neuropathological variables, inculding features of the gross brain and the density and distribution of senile plaques (SP) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) were used to describe each case. Cluster analysis is a multivariate statistical method which combines together in groups, AD cases with the most similar neuropathological characteristics. The majority of cases (83%) were clustered into five such groups. The analysis suggested that an initial division of the 78 cases could be made into two major groups: (1) a large group (68%) in which the distribution of SP and NFT was restricted to a relatively small number of brain regions, and (2) a smaller group (15%) in which the lesions were more widely disseminated throughout the neocortex. Each of these groups could be subdivided on the degree of capillary amyloid angiopathy (CAA) present. In addition, those cases with a restricted development of SP/NFT and CAA could be divided further into an early and a late onset form. Familial AD cases did not cluster as a separate group but were either distributed between four of the five groups or were cases with unique combinations of pathological features not closely related to any of the groups. It was concluded that multivariate statistical methods may be of value in the classification of AD into subtypes. © 1994 Springer-Verlag.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1994


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • neuropathological criteria
  • clustering analysis
  • disease subtypes


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