by Irene M. Lelieveld, Martijn L. T. M. Müller, Nicolaas I. Bohnen, Robert A. Koeppe, Ronald D. Chervin, Kirk A. Frey, Roger L. Albin
Sleep dysfunction and excessive daytime sleepiness are common in Parkinson disease (PD). Several studies suggest that PD patients exhibit high prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). PD has a complex profile of neurochemical deficits in which abnormalities of different neurotransmitter systems may play significant and differing roles in the development of non-motor features. In the present study, we investigated whether SDB in PD is related to serotoninergic neuron degeneration. We used a cross-sectional design to assess the correlation between SDB and measures of caudal brainstem serotonin neuron integrity. Fifty one PD participants with mean disease duration of 6.0 (SD 3.7) years and mean age of 63.9 (SD 6.2) years were studied. We measured caudal brainstem serotoninergic innervation with [11C]DASB positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and striatal dopaminergic innervation with [11C]DTBZ PET imaging. SDB was assessed with polysomnography (PSG) and sleepiness with multiple sleep latency tests. Greater than half of participants exhibited PSG evidence of significant SDB; 12 participants had normal PSGs, 6 had mild SDB, 20 had moderate SDB, and 13 had severe SDB. We found no association between severity of SDB and caudal brainstem serotoninergic innervation in PD participants. Striatal dopaminergic denervation did not correlate with severity of SDB. We did find significant correlations between measures of motor function impairment and sleep quantity and quality in PD. Neither serotoninergic nor dopaminergic neuron degeneration is likely to play a major role in SDB observed in PD patients.