OBJECTIVES:To investigate whether amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is characterised by restriction in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Further, to examine the role of comorbidity and cognitive performance on IADL changes in aMCI subjects.METHODS:The study included 132 subjects with aMCI and 249 subjects with no cognitive impairment (NCI), consecutively enrolled as outpatients in a multicentric Italian clinical-based study, the ReGAl Project. All subjects underwent a comprehensive evaluation including clinical examination, laboratory screening, neuroimaging and cognitive and behavioral assessments. Functional status was evaluated by the Lawton's Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scale. Comorbidity was evaluated by the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS). Cognitive evaluation included tests assessing episodic memory, language, attention/executive functioning and praxis, as well as the the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) as a measure of global cognition.RESULTS:Subjects with aMCI had higher IADL changes than NCI. Among IADL items, aMCI subjects showed a significant impairment in shopping, taking drugs, and handling economy; however also NCI had minor IADL changes regarding cooking, washing and cleaning. IADL restriction in aMCI subjects was significantly associated with cognitive performance, mainly related to executive functioning, but not with comorbidity. On the contrary, in NCI sensory impairment accounts for slight IADL changes.CONCLUSION:In aMCI subjects a mild degree of cognitive deterioration has a stronger impact on IADL than somatic comorbidity. Current diagnostic criteria for MCI should include a mild impairment in IADL.