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Prodromal Parkinsonism and neurodegenerative risk stratification in REM sleep behaviour disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Issue number8
Early online date4 May 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 30 Mar 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Aug 2017



Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is the most specific marker of prodromal alpha-synucleinopathies. We sought to delineate the baseline clinical characteristics of RBD and evaluate risk stratification models.


Clinical assessments were performed in 171 RBD, 296 control, and 119 untreated Parkinson’s (PD) participants. Putative risk measures were assessed as predictors of prodromal neurodegeneration, and Movement Disorders Society (MDS) criteria for prodromal PD were applied. Participants were screened for common leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2)/glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA) gene mutations.


Compared to controls, participants with RBD had higher rates of solvent exposure, head injury, smoking, obesity, and antidepressant use. GBA mutations were more common in RBD, but no LRRK2 mutations were found. RBD participants performed significantly worse than controls on Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)-III, timed “get-up-and-go”, Flamingo test, Sniffin Sticks, and cognitive tests and had worse measures of constipation, quality of life (QOL), and orthostatic hypotension. For all these measures except UPDRS-III, RBD and PD participants were equally impaired. Depression, anxiety, and apathy were worse in RBD compared to PD participants. Stratification of people with RBD according to antidepressant use, obesity, and age altered the odds ratio (OR) of hyposmia compared to controls from 3.4 to 45.5. 74% (95% confidence interval [CI] 66%, 80%) of RBD participants met the MDS criteria for probable prodromal Parkinson’s compared to 0.3% (95% CI 0.009%, 2%) of controls.


RBD are impaired across a range of clinical measures consistent with prodromal PD and suggestive of a more severe nonmotor subtype. Clinical risk stratification has the potential to select higher risk patients for neuroprotective interventions.

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