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Mol Neurobiol. 2003 Apr;27(2):137-52.

Physiological and anatomical link between Parkinson-like disease and REM sleep behavior disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, UCLA and Neurobiology Research (151A3) VAGLAHS Sepulveda, North Hills, CA 91343, USA.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is caused by a loss of neurons in the ventral midbrain. Parkinsonian patients often experience insomnia, parasomnias, and daytime somnolence. REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is characterized by vigorous movements during REM sleep, and may also be caused by neuronal degeneration in the central nervous system (CNS); however, the site of degeneration remains unclear. Both Parkinsonism and RBD become more prevalent with aging, with onset usually occurring in the sixties. Recent findings show that many individuals with RBD eventually develop Parkinsonism. Conversely, it is also true that certain patients diagnosed with Parkinsonism subsequently develop RBD. Postmortem examination reveals that Lewy bodies, Lewy neurites, and alpha-synuclein are found in brainstem nuclei in both Parkinsonism and RBD patients. In this article, we will discuss evidence that Parkinsonism and RBD are physiologically and anatomically linked, based on our animal experiments and other studies on human patients.

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