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Exp Neurol. 2013 May;243:67-73. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 May 14.

Sundowning syndrome in aging and dementia: research in mouse models.

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Department of Neuroscience, Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Both normal aging and dementia are associated with altered circadian regulation of physiology and behavior. Elderly individuals and dementia patients commonly experience disrupted sleep-wake cycles, which may lead to psychomotor agitation, confusion, and wandering. These behaviors are disruptive to both patients and caregivers. Sundowning syndrome, which encompasses many of these behaviors, is characterized by a temporal pattern in the severity of symptoms, usually expressed as worse during the late afternoon or evening. Other than antipsychotic medications, off-label medications, and restraint, few treatment options are available. The aim of this paper is to review mouse studies of circadian behavioral disturbances relevant to sundowning, in order to determine potential models for studying the mechanisms of sundowning syndrome. The emergence of a useful mouse model should facilitate the development of novel therapeutic approaches.

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