Glymphatic System Dysfunction and Sleep Disturbance May Contribute to the Pathogenesis and Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

Publication Name

International Journal of Molecular Sciences


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a multisystem alpha-synucleinopathic neurodegenerative disease and the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease with a high incidence rate in the elderly population. PD is highly multifactorial in etiology and has complex and wide-ranging pathogenic mechanisms. Environmental exposures and genetic predisposition are prominent risk factors. However, current evidence suggests that an intimate link may exist between the risk factor of sleep disturbance and PD pathogenesis. PD is characterized by the pathological hallmarks of alpha-synuclein aggregations and dopaminergic neuron degeneration in the substantia nigra. The loss of dopamine-producing neurons results in both motor and non-motor symptoms, most commonly, bradykinesia, tremor, rigidity, psychiatric disorders, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems. Factors that may exacerbate alpha-synuclein accumulation and dopamine neuron loss include neuroinflammation and glymphatic system impairment. Extracellular alpha-synuclein can induce an inflammatory response which can lead to neural cell death and inhibition of neurogenesis. The glymphatic system functions most optimally to remove extracellular brain solutes during sleep and therefore sleep disruption may be a crucial progression factor as well as a risk factor. This literature review interprets and analyses data from experimental and epidemiological studies to determine the recent advances in establishing a relationship between glymphatic system dysfunction, sleep disturbance, and PD pathogenesis and progression. This review addresses current limitations surrounding the ability to affirm a causal link between improved glymphatic clearance by increased sleep quality in PD prevention and management. Furthermore, this review proposes potential therapeutic approaches that could utilize the protective mechanism of sleep, to promote glymphatic clearance that therefore may reduce disease progression as well as symptom severity in PD patients.

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Griffith University



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