Association between circadian rhythms and neurodegenerative diseases

Yue Leng, Erik S. Musiek, Kun Hu, Francesco P. Cappuccio, Kristine Yaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

293 Scopus citations


Dysfunction in 24-h circadian rhythms is a common occurrence in ageing adults; however, circadian rhythm disruptions are more severe in people with age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and Parkinson's disease. Manifestations of circadian rhythm disruptions differ according to the type and severity of neurodegenerative disease and, for some patients, occur before the onset of typical clinical symptoms of neurodegeneration. Evidence from preliminary studies suggest that circadian rhythm disruptions, in addition to being a symptom of neurodegeneration, might also be a potential risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and Parkinson's disease, although large, longitudinal studies are needed to confirm this relationship. The mechanistic link between circadian rhythms and neurodegeneration is still not fully understood, although proposed underlying pathways include alterations of protein homoeostasis and immune and inflammatory function. While preliminary clinical studies are promising, more studies of circadian rhythm disruptions and its mechanisms are required. Furthermore, clinical trials are needed to determine whether circadian interventions could prevent or delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-318
Number of pages12
JournalThe Lancet Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


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