Restless sleep may be an early sign of Parkinson's disease

December 6, 2017, Aarhus University

Restless sleep could be a sign of a disorder associated with diseases of the brain. Researchers from Aarhus University conducted a case-control study on the condition of the dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain and cells that participate in the brain's immune system in people suffering from rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (RBD). The study shows that patients suffering from RBD have a risk of developing Parkinson's disease or dementia in the future, because they already suffer from a lack of dopamine in the brain. Parkinson's disease occurs because dopamine-producing brain cells stop working. The findings have just been published in the neurological journal The Lancet Neurology.

The RBD sleep disorder is characterised by disturbances in the part of sleep where dreams take place. Healthy people are relaxed and still during dream sleep, while people suffering from RBD live out their dreams so that while sleeping, they flail, kick and shout.

"These patients have an inflammation of the brain in the area where the are found," says one of the researchers behind the study, Morten Gersel Stokholm from Aarhus University and the PET Centre at Aarhus University Hospital.

This is completely new knowledge, as researchers have not previously demonstrated that there is a form of inflammation of the brain in patients who are at risk of developing Parkinson's . "With this study, we have gained new knowledge about the disease processes in the brain in the early initial stages of the disease development. The idea is for this knowledge to be used to determine which patients with the sleep disorder will later develop Parkinson's disease. At the same time, this is also knowledge that can help to develop drugs which can stop or slow the development of the diseases," explains Morten Gersel Stokholm about the sleep disorder which most often affects persons aged 50 to 70, and more frequently men than women.

There are 7,300 Parkinson's disease in Denmark. Symptoms are slow movements, often with shaking, together with muscular rigidity. Parkinson's disease is a chronic condition that continues to worsen over time. The disease is somewhat more common in men than in women. Parkinson's disease is caused by a lack of dopamine in the . It is primarily affects adults, and the first signs most often appear between the ages of 50 to 70.

Explore further: REM sleep behavior disorder is a risk factor for Parkinson's disease

More information: Morten Gersel Stokholm et al. Assessment of neuroinflammation in patients with idiopathic rapid-eye-movement sleep behaviour disorder: a case-control study, The Lancet Neurology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(17)30173-4

Related Stories

REM sleep behavior disorder is a risk factor for Parkinson's disease

July 29, 2011
Patients suffering REM sleep behaviour disorders dream nightmares in which they are attacked and pursued, with the particularity that they express them by screaming, crying, punching and kicking while sleeping. Lancet Neurology ...

Connecting the dots between dreams and brain disease

May 29, 2017
Dr. John Peever at the University of Toronto has been working to answer one of humanity's greatest questions: how do we dream? He has found a certain area of the brain is responsible for this phenomenon and that troubles ...

Conversion of brain cells offers hope for Parkinson's patients

April 11, 2017
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have made significant progress in the search for new treatments for Parkinson's disease. By manipulating the gene expression of non-neuronal cells in the brain, they were able to produce ...

People with Parkinson's more likely to have leg restlessness than restless leg syndrome

November 9, 2011
People with Parkinson's disease may be more likely to have a movement disorder called leg motor restlessness, but not true restless legs syndrome as previous studies have suggested, according to a study published in the Nov. ...

Scientific discovery may change treatment of Parkinson's disease

March 22, 2017
When monitoring Parkinson's disease, SPECT imaging of the brain is used for acquiring information on the dopamine activity. A new study conducted in Turku, Finland, shows that the dopamine activity observed in SPECT imaging ...

Sleep disorder linked to brain disease

April 22, 2014
Researchers at the University of Toronto say a sleep disorder that causes people to act out their dreams is the best current predictor of brain diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Recommended for you

Two compounds in coffee may team up to fight Parkinson's

December 10, 2018
Rutgers scientists have found a compound in coffee that may team up with caffeine to fight Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia—two progressive and currently incurable diseases associated with brain degeneration.

New Parkinson's disease drug target revealed through study of fatty acids

December 4, 2018
The human brain is rich in lipids. Investigators studying Parkinson's disease (PD) have become increasingly interested in lipids since both molecular and genetic studies have pointed to the disruption of the balance of the ...

A toxin that travels from stomach to brain may trigger Parkinsonism

December 4, 2018
Combining low doses of a toxic herbicide with sugar-binding proteins called lectins may trigger Parkinsonism—symptoms typical of Parkinson's disease like body tremors and slowing of body motions—after the toxin travels ...

Experimental cancer drug shows promise for Parkinson's

December 3, 2018
The study, funded by Parkinson's UK, suggests that the drug, tasquinimod, which is not yet on the market, works by controlling genes that may cause Parkinson's. This happens when the drug interacts with a protein inside brain ...

Parkinson's therapy creates new brain circuits for motor function, study finds

November 28, 2018
Scientists have uncovered that an emerging gene therapy for Parkinson's disease creates new circuits in the brain associated with improved motor movement. These findings, published today in Science Translational Medicine ...

The puzzle of a mutated gene lurking behind many Parkinson's cases

November 15, 2018
Genetic mutations affecting a single gene play an outsized role in Parkinson's disease. The mutations are generally responsible for the mass die-off of a set of dopamine-secreting, or dopaminergic, nerve cells in the brain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.