BACKGROUND: Sleep disorders and cognitive impairment are frequently reported in Parkinson's disease (PD) as non-motor disabling symptoms. While it is known that REM sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD) in PD is associated with motor and cognitive decline, little is known about the neurobiological significance of NREM sleep arousal-related disorders.
OBJECTIVES: to evaluate the cognitive and clinical correlates of arousal-related disorders in PD.
METHODS: Clinical data and video-polysomnography were analysed from one hundred-seventy consecutive subjects with PD. Based on the neuropsychological assessment, the subjects were divided into three groups: no cognitive impairment (PD; n = 58), mild cognitive impairment (PD-MCI; n = 58) and overt dementia (PDD; n = 54).
RESULTS: Arousal-related disorders by history were reported in 32.9% of the subjects: 10.3% PD, 31.6% PD-MCI and 59.3% PDD (p = 0.001). Video-PSG captured arousal-related disorders in 1.7% PD, 21.2% MCI-PD and 35.6% PDD (p = 0.001). Arousal-related disorders and RBD were recorded in the same night in 7.7% PD, 9.8% MCI-PD and 15.6% PDD (p = 0.04). Patients with arousal-related disorders captured at V-PSG have a longer disease duration (p = 0.003), higher UPDRS score (p = 0.039), longer duration of treatment with levodopa (p = 0.017) and dopamine agonists (p = 0.018), worse H&Y staging (p = 0.001), lower MMSE score (p = 0.019) and more frequently hallucinations (p = 0.004). In multivariate analysis, cognitive impairment significantly increases the risk of arousal-related disorders (OR 3.387-95% CI 1.395-8.220, p = 0.007).
CONCLUSION: Arousal-related disorders appear to be a marker of cognitive decline in PD. Recognizing arousal-related disorders should make clinicians aware of a possible cognitive decline in PD and eventually modify the therapeutic approach.