Differential Circadian Rhythm Disturbances in Men with Alzheimer Disease and Frontotemporal Degeneration | Cardiology | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network
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Original Article
April 2001

Differential Circadian Rhythm Disturbances in Men with Alzheimer Disease and Frontotemporal Degeneration

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Drs Harper and Satlin); McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass (Drs Harper, Satlin, and Volicer and Mss Harlan and Goldstein); the Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, Mass (Dr Harper); the Department of Pathology, Brown University, Providence, RI (Dr Stopa); and the EN Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, and Boston University School of Medicine (Drs McKee and Volicer).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001;58(4):353-360. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.58.4.353

Background  Caregiver exhaustion is a frequent consequence of sleep disturbance and rest-activity rhythm disruption that occurs in dementia. This exhaustion is the causal factor most frequently cited by caregivers in making the decision to institutionalize patients with dementia. Recent studies have implicated dysfunction of the circadian pacemaker in the etiology of these disturbances in dementia.

Methods  We studied the activity and core-body temperature rhythms in a cohort of 38 male patients with a clinical diagnosis of probable Alzheimer disease (AD) approximately 2 years before death. These patients were later given a confirmed diagnosis of AD (n = 23), frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) (n = 9), or diffuse Lewy body disease (DLB) with mixed AD or FTD pathologies (n = 6) after autopsy and neuropathological examination. Physiological rhythms of patients with AD and FTD were then compared with a group of normal, elderly men (n = 8) from the community.

Results  Alzheimer patients showed increased nocturnal activity and a significant phase-delay in their rhythms of core-body temperature and activity compared with patients with FTD and controls. The activity rhythm of FTD patients was highly fragmented and phase-advanced in comparison with controls and apparently uncoupled from the rhythm of core-body temperature.

Conclusions  Patients with AD and patients with FTD show different disturbances in their rhythms of activity and temperature compared with each other and with normal elderly patients.