Pallido-ponto-nigral degeneration (PPND), caused by an N279K mutation of the MAPT gene, is 1 of a family of disorders collectively referred to as frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17. This study aims to characterize the nature of the sleep disturbance in PPND and compare these findings to those in other progressive neurological illnesses. Pathological findings are also provided.
Ten subjects were recruited from the PPND kindred; 5 affected and 5 unaffected. The subjects underwent clinical assessment, polysomnography, and wrist actigraphy. Available sleep-relevant areas (pedunculopontine/laterodorsal tegmentum, nucleus basalis of Meynert, thalamus, and locus ceruleus) of affected subjects were analyzed postmortem.
The affected group's total sleep time was an average of 130.8 minutes compared to 403.6 minutes in the control group (p < 0.01). Initial sleep latency was significantly longer in affected subjects (range, 58–260 minutes vs 3–34 minutes). Affected subjects also had an increase in stage I sleep (8.5% vs 1%), and less stage III/IV sleep (8.5% vs 17%). At the time of autopsy, all cases had severe neuronal tau pathology in wake-promoting nuclei, as well as decreases in thalamic cholinergic innervations. There was no difference in orexinergic fiber density in nucleus basalis of Meynert or locus ceruleus compared to controls.
The PPND kindred showed severe sleep disturbance. Sleep abnormalities are common in neurodegenerative illnesses, but this is the first study of sleep disorders in PPND. Unlike most neurodegenerative conditions, PPND is characterized by decreased total sleep time, increased sleep latency, and decreased sleep efficiency, without daytime hypersomnolence.