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Neurobiol Aging. 1995 Sep-Oct;16(5):765-71.

Circadian locomotor activity and core-body temperature rhythms in Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02178, USA.


Sleep-wake cycle disturbances suggest that circadian rhythms may be disrupted in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, we examined the circadian rhythms of core-body temperature and locomotor activity in 28 patients with probable AD and 10 healthy controls. AD patients had higher percent nocturnal activity than controls, corresponding to the clinical picture of fragmented sleep. The amplitude of the activity cycle in the AD patients was lower than that of controls and the acrophase of this cycle in AD patients was 4.5 h later. There was no difference in the amplitude of the core-body temperature circadian rhythm, but AD patients had delayed temperature acrophases. A subgroup of AD patients with large mean time differences between the acrophases of their activity and temperature cycles had lower temperature amplitudes and greater activity during the night. These findings suggest that a subgroup of AD patients with impaired endogenous pacemaker function may have a diminished capacity to synchronize the rhythm of core-body temperature with the circadian cycle of rest-activity. This circadian rhythm dysfunction may partly explain the fragmented nocturnal sleep exhibited by these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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