Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 951–957 | Cite as

Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder in patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease

  • Pan Wang
  • Yun Kwok Wing
  • Jianli Xing
  • Yong Liu
  • Bo Zhou
  • Zengqiang Zhang
  • Hongxiang Yao
  • Yan’e Guo
  • Yanchang Shang
  • Xi Zhang
Original Article


Background and aims

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is commonly associated with neurodegenerative disorders characterized by α-synuclein deposition, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and Lewy body dementia. However, this tendency in tauopathy-mediated diseases is rare and only sporadically reported. We systematically illustrate the occurrence of RBD and sleep features among a cohort of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a non-synucleinopathy.


We recruited 105 clinically probable AD patients. Fifteen clinically probable AD patients with suspected RBD underwent a video-polysomnography (vPSG) examination.


Five patients with probable AD exhibited RBD. One of the patients performed repeated touching of the head and the face with his hands and flailed his arms. Three patients exhibited hand twisting, exploring, prominent limb kicking, and jerking. The fifth patient exhibited all of the characteristics of RBD (he recalled a dream about fighting animals), and his wife was awakened by his screaming. Of these five patients, one patient took the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor drug donepezil. The patients with AD + RBD demonstrated increases in both tonic and phasic electromyography activity during REM sleep, but sleep architecture did not differ between the AD + RBD and AD-alone groups.


RBD can occur in patients with AD. The occurrence of RBD does not change the sleep architecture of AD patients.


REM sleep behavior disorder Alzheimer’s disease REM sleep without atonia Video-polysomnography 



This work was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81471120, 60831004, and 61431012), the Natural Science Foundation of Beijing (Grant no. 7152096), the Specific Healthcare Research Projects (13BJZ50), the Clinical Sciences Fund of the Chinese PLA General Hospital (2013FC-TSYS-1006), and the Science Technological Innovation Nursery Fund of the Chinese PLA General Hospital (13KMM19).

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, and the applicable revisions at the time of the investigation.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pan Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yun Kwok Wing
    • 3
  • Jianli Xing
    • 1
  • Yong Liu
    • 4
  • Bo Zhou
    • 1
  • Zengqiang Zhang
    • 5
  • Hongxiang Yao
    • 6
  • Yan’e Guo
    • 1
  • Yanchang Shang
    • 1
  • Xi Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geriatric Neurology, Sleep Medicine Research CenterChinese PLA General HospitalBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyTianjin Huanhu HospitalTianjinChina
  3. 3.Sleep Assessment Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  4. 4.Brainnetome Center, Institute of AutomationChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Department of NeurologyHainan Branch of Chinese PLA General HospitalHainanChina
  6. 6.Department of RadiologyChinese PLA General HospitalBeijingChina

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