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Psychiatry Res. 2013 Dec 30;214(3):422-8.

Comparing neural correlates of REM sleep in posttraumatic stress disorder and depression: a neuroimaging study.


Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disturbances predict poor clinical outcomes in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). In MDD, REM sleep is characterized by activation of limbic and paralimbic brain regions compared to wakefulness. The neural correlates of PTSD during REM sleep remain scarcely explored, and comparisons of PTSD and MDD have not been conducted. The present study sought to compare brain activity patterns during wakefulness and REM sleep in 13 adults with PTSD and 12 adults with MDD using [¹⁸F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (PET). PTSD was associated with greater increase in relative regional cerebral metabolic rate of glucose (rCMRglc) in limbic and paralimbic structures in REM sleep compared to wakefulness. Post-hoc comparisons indicated that MDD was associated with greater limbic and paralimbic rCMRglc during wakefulness but not REM sleep compared to PTSD. Our findings suggest that PTSD is associated with increased REM sleep limbic and paralimbic metabolism, whereas MDD is associated with wake and REM hypermetabolism in these areas. These observations suggest that PTSD and MDD disrupt REM sleep through different neurobiological processes. Optimal sleep treatments between the two disorders may differ: REM-specific therapy may be more effective in PTSD.

[Available on 2014/12/30]
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