Background: Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) is a rare prion disease with heterogeneous clinical presentation. Although sleep-related abnormalities are prominent and well-known in other prion diseases such as fatal familial insomnia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, information on sleep is limited in GSS.
Methods: We evaluated sleep in three genetically confirmed GSS cases using clinical history, sleep scales and video-polysomnography. In addition, patients underwent neurological assessment, neurological scales, neuropsychological testing, lumbar puncture, brain MRI and brain 18F-FDG-PET.
Results: Two patients reported sleep maintenance insomnia attributed to leg stiffness and back pain while the remaining patient did not report sleep problems. Video-polysomnography showed normal sleep staging in all of them. Findings such as reduced sleep efficiency in two patients, a confusional arousal in one patient, obstructive apneas in one patient, and periodic legs movements in sleep in two patients were observed.
Conclusions: In contrast to fatal familial insomnia, the normal sleep staging in GSS may suggest dissimilar involvement of the neuronal structures that regulate sleep. We found non-specific sleep alterations in GSS such as obstructive apneas and periodic leg movements in sleep which are of unknown origin and of uncertain clinical relevance. Studies including a larger number of patients, serial sleep evaluations and incorporating neuropathological assessment will further help to understand sleep in GSS.
Keywords: Gerstmann-sträussler-scheinker; Prion disease; Sleep; Video-polysomnography.
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