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Can “Sundowning” in Alzheimer’s Patients be Treated?

Posted by on May 8th, 2018 Posted in: Aging, Blog, Research
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“Grandma Crying Moment.” by Jeremy Wong via Unsplash, July 1, 2017, CCO.

A new study confirms earlier research about what causes sundowning in Alzheimer’s patients.  This could lead to a pharmacological treatment to eliminate this issue.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that typically begins in those 60 years and older.  It is the most common type of dementia and impacts parts of the brain that handle thought, memory and language.  There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and the symptoms grow progressively worth with time.

Sundowning is a symptom of Alzheimer’s that occurs as daylight begins to fade.  It presents as increased irritability, restlessness, or confusion. This will occasionally persist during nighttime hours as well making it difficult for patients and their caregivers to get proper sleep.

Previous research had suggested that this phenomenon was connected to circadian rhythm and a new research team has confirmed it.  ’We have shown that the circadian clock in mice is closely linked to an aggression centre in the mouse brain by a cell circuit. The human brain has those same groups of cells that the circuit goes through. With this knowledge, we are now enabled to target this circuit pharmacologically and target cells that make people aggressive at the end of the day’, said Timothy Lynagh, a member of the research team who confirmed the connection.

It is estimated that treatment in humans could begin in approximately 20 years.

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