Neurophysiological basis of rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder: Informing future drug development

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Poul Jennum, Julie Anja Engelhard Christensen, Marielle Zoetmulder

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a parasomnia characterized by a history of recurrent nocturnal dream enactment behavior and loss of skeletal muscle atonia and increased phasic muscle activity during REM sleep: REM sleep without atonia. RBD and associated comorbidities have recently been identified as one of the most specific and potentially sensitive risk factors for later development of any of the alpha-synucleinopathies: Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and other atypical parkinsonian syndromes. Several other sleep-related abnormalities have recently been identified in patients with RBD/Parkinson's disease who experience abnormalities in sleep electroencephalographic frequencies, sleep-wake transitions, wake and sleep stability, occurrence and morphology of sleep spindles, and electrooculography measures. These findings suggest a gradual involvement of the brainstem and other structures, which is in line with the gradual involvement known in these disorders. We propose that these findings may help identify biomarkers of individuals at high risk of subsequent conversion to parkinsonism.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature and Science of Sleep
Volume8
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
ISSN1179-1608
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Brain stem, Hypocretin, Hypothalamus, Motor control

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