Study objective: To describe sleep characteristics and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder in patients with Guadeloupean atypical parkinsonism (Gd-PSP), a tauopathy resembling progressive supranuclear palsy that mainly affects the midbrain. It is possibly caused by the ingestion of sour sop (corossol), a tropical fruit containing acetogenins, which are mitochondrial poisons.
Design: Sleep interview, motor and cognitive tests, and overnight videopolysomnography.
Patients: Thirty-six age-, sex-, disease-duration- and disability-matched patients with Gd-PSP (n = 9), progressive supranuclear palsy (a tauopathy, n = 9), Parkinson disease (a synucleinopathy, n = 9) and controls (n = 9).
Settings: Tertiary-care academic hospital.
Results: REM sleep behavior disorder was found in 78% patients with Gd-PSP (43% of patients reported having this disorder several years before the onset of parkinsonism), 44% of patients with idiopathic Parkinson disease, 33% of patients with progressive supranuclear palsy, and no controls. The percentage of muscle activity during REM sleep was greater in patients with Gd-PSP than in controls (limb muscle activity, 8.3%+/-8.7% vs 0.1%+/- 0.2%; chin muscle activity, 24.3%+/- 23.7% vs 0.7%+/-2.0%) but similar to that of other patient groups. The latency and percentage of REM sleep were similar in patients with Gd-PSP, patients with Parkinson disease, and controls, whereas patients with progressive supranuclear palsy had delayed and shortened REM sleep.
Conclusion: Although Gd-PSP is a tauopathy, most patients experience REM sleep behavior disorder. This suggests that the location of neuronal loss or dysfunction in the midbrain, rather than the protein comprising the histologic lesions (synuclein versus tau aggregation), is responsible for suppressing muscle atonia during REM sleep. Subjects with idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder should avoid eating sour sop.