Lancet Neurol 2016 Apr;15(4):405-19
Neurology Service, Multidisciplinary Sleep Unit, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, IDIBAPS, CIBERNED, Barcelona, Spain.
Idiopathic rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder (IRBD) manifests as unpleasant dreams and vigorous behaviours during REM sleep that can result in injuries. Patients with IRBD have no known neurological diseases or motor or cognitive complaints; however, this sleep disorder is not harmless. In most cases, IRBD is the prelude of the synucleinopathies Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, or, less frequently, multiple system atrophy. Patients can show abnormalities that are characteristic of the synucleinopathies, and longitudinal follow-up shows that most patients develop parkinsonism and cognitive impairments with time. Thus, diagnosis of IRBD needs to be accurate and involves informing the patient of the risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease. It is extraordinary for a sleep disorder to precede the full expression of a neurodegenerative disease, which renders IRBD of particular interest in studies of the prodromal stage of the synucleinopathies, and in the development of neuroprotective interventions to stop or slow neurodegenerative deterioration before motor and cognitive symptomatology emerges. Such therapeutics do not currently exist, and thus represent an unmet need in IRBD.