Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediary stage between cognitively normal state and AD. Not all people who have MCI convert to AD. The diagnosis of AD is made after significant symptoms of dementia such as short-term memory loss are already present. Since AD is currently an irreversible disease, diagnosis at the onset of the disease brings a huge burden on patients, their caregivers, and the healthcare sector. Thus, there is a crucial need to develop methods for the early prediction AD for patients who have MCI. Recurrent neural networks (RNN) have been successfully used to handle electronic health records (EHR) for predicting conversion from MCI to AD. However, RNN ignores irregular time intervals between successive events which occurs common in electronic health record data. In this study, we propose two deep learning architectures based on RNN, namely Predicting Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (PPAD) and PPAD-Autoencoder. PPAD and PPAD-Autoencoder are designed for early predicting conversion from MCI to AD at the next visit and multiple visits ahead for patients, respectively. To minimize the effect of the irregular time intervals between visits, we propose using age in each visit as an indicator of time change between successive visits.


Our experimental results conducted on Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center datasets showed that our proposed models outperformed all baseline models for most prediction scenarios in terms of F2 and sensitivity. We also observed that the age feature was one of top features and was able to address irregular time interval problem.

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