News | June 12, 2014

REM Sleep Disturbance Signals Future Neurodegenerative Disease

Molecular neuroimaging shows a strong association between a sleep disorder and the development of progressive brain diseases such as Parkinson’s

June 12, 2014 — How many millions of people suffer from sleep disturbance? One sleep disorder in particular, called REM behavior disorder, could be a sign of impending neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinson’s and dementia, say scientists presenting their research at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s 2014 Annual Meeting.

Researchers are not sure why spontaneous and unexplained disturbance in REM sleep should lead to a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s, but new longitudinal imaging data show a clear correlation between idiopathic REM behavior disorder and dysfunction of the dopamine transporter system involved in a wide range of vital brain functions, including memory and motor control. Dysfunction associated with dopamine in the brain marks the first hints of Parkinson’s disease.

In order to gauge the relationship between the REM sleep disorder and neurodegeneration, scientists performed molecular neuroimaging using a technique called single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), which allows clinicians to evaluate bodily functions instead of focusing on structure, the forte of conventional radiology.

“Our SPECT study showed a trend toward decreased dopamine transporter density in the brain and Parkinsonism in the follow-up data of patients with REM sleep disorder who had no previous evidence of neurodegenerative disease,” said Hongyoon Choi, M.D., a Ph.D. candidate and researcher in the department of molecular medicine and biopharmaceutical sciences at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Sungnam, Korea. “To our knowledge, a study looking at a long-term link between the two has never been conducted before.”

A total of 21 consecutive patients with no known Parkinsonism or cognitive decline were enrolled in the long-term study between 2004 and 2006 and were followed after about eight years. A baseline SPECT scan of dopamine transporter function was performed with the radiopharmaceutical I-123 FP-CIT as an imaging agent. A follow-up scan was performed to assess progression of neurodegenerative disease. Results showed that after follow-up, patients’ SPECT scans revealed substantial decreases in radiotracer binding to the dopamine transport system in the nigrostriatal regions of the brain. A lack of tracer binding in these regions of the brain is closely linked to neuronal degeneration and the development of dementia and movement disorders.

A total of 10 patients out of the original 21 patients with disturbed REM sleep were found to have decreased striatal tracer binding at the beginning of the study. Of these, seven had developed neurodegenerative disease by follow-up some years later, including four patients who developed Parkinson’s disease and two patients who developed dementia with Lewy bodies, a neurodegenerative disease identified by the build-up of proteins, called Lewy bodies, in brain regions associated with memory muscle control. 

“In the future, dopamine transporter imaging could potentially predict development of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases in patients who have known risk factors including idiopathic REM behavior disorder,” Choi said.

For more information: www.snmmi.org

Related Content

First FDA-Approved Study of Focused Ultrasound to Open Blood-Brain Barrier
News | Focused Ultrasound Therapy | August 21, 2018
In the first such clinical trial in the United States, physician-scientists with the University of Maryland School of...
Doctor-Patient Discussions Neglect Potential Harms of Lung Cancer Screening
News | Lung Cancer | August 15, 2018
August 15, 2018 — Although national guidelines advise doctors to discuss the benefits and harms of...
PET Tracer Identifies Estrogen Receptor Expression Differences in Breast Cancer Patients
News | PET Imaging | August 09, 2018
In metastatic breast cancer, prognosis and treatment is largely influenced by estrogen receptor (ER) expression of the...
Cardiac Imaging Reveals Roots of Preeclampsia Damage in Pregnant Women
News | Women's Health | August 07, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers say a heart imaging study of scores of pregnant women with the most severe and dangerous form...
Cardiac Monitoring a Higher Priority for High-Risk Breast Cancer Patients
News | Cardio-oncology | August 07, 2018
August 7, 2018 — While heart failure is an uncommon complication of...
Novel PET Imaging Method Could Track and Guide Type 1 Diabetes Therapy
News | PET Imaging | August 03, 2018
Researchers have discovered a new nuclear medicine test that could improve care of patients with type 1 diabetes. The...
computed tomography brain scan

Image courtesy of Pixabay

News | Clinical Trials | July 19, 2018
The use of computed tomography (CT) scans has increased dramatically over the last two decades. CT scans greatly...
CT Decision Instrument Reliably Guides Pediatric Blunt Trauma imaging Decisions

This is a four-site prospective observational cohort. Image courtesy of Kirsty Challen, B.Sc., MBCHB, MRES, Ph.D., Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, United Kingdom.

News | Clinical Decision Support | July 18, 2018
A new study finds The Pediatric NEXUS Head Computed Tomography (CT) Decision Instrument (DI) reliably identifies blunt...
Study Points to Need for Performance Standards for EHR Usability and Safety
News | Electronic Medical Records (EMR) | July 18, 2018
A novel new study provides compelling evidence that the design, development and implementation of electronic health...
Artificial Intelligence Provides Faster, Clearer MRI Scans

A new artificial-intelligence-based approach to image reconstruction, called AUTOMAP, yields higher quality images from less data, reducing radiation doses for CT and PET and shortening scan times for MRI. Shown here are MR images reconstructed from the same data with conventional approaches, at left, and AUTOMAP, at right. Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital

News | Artificial Intelligence | July 17, 2018
A research team with funding from the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has...
Overlay Init