Sleeping sickness or African trypanosomiasis is caused by the extracellular parasite. Trypanosoma brucei and is lethal if untreated. The encephalitic stage is characterized by disrupted sleep pattern, with sleep episodes during the day and wakefulness during the night. Studies in rodent models found that early during brain infection the parasites localize to circumventricular organs, outside the blood-brain barrier but close to the circadian pacemaker (the suprachiasmatic nuclei) and sleep-wakefulness-regulating hypothalamic centers. Long-term exposure of these structures to factors released during trypanosomes/immune system interaction, which include inflammatory cytokines, could play a role in the pathogenesis of severe sleep disturbances during the disease. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.
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