Loss of Deep Sleep Associated With Early Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brendan P. Lucey, MD, MSCI Assistant Professor of Neurology Director, Sleep Medicine Section Washington University School of Medicine Saint Louis, Missouri 63110

Dr. Lucey

Brendan P. Lucey, MD, MSCI
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Director, Sleep Medicine Section
Washington University School of Medicine
Saint Louis, Missouri 63110

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Alzheimer’s disease and sleep are currently thought to have a two-way or bidirectional relationship.

First, sleep disturbances may increase the risk of developing AD.

Second, changes in sleep-wake activity may be due to Alzheimer’s disease pathology and our paper was primarily focused on this aspect of the relationship.    If sleep changes were a marker for AD changes in the brain, then this would be very helpful in future clinical trials and possibly screening in the clinic.

MedicalResearch.com:? What are the main findings?

Response: In our study, we measured sleep-wake activity over one week to look at the association between sleep and AD pathology after adjusting for multiple factors such as age, sex, race, cognitive function, and others.   Controlling for these factors is important as many of them affect both sleep and AD.

We observed that NREM slow wave activity decreased with increased tau pathology.  We found this relationship between NREM slow wave activity and tau using two methods to measure tau in the brain.  Approximately 80% of the participants in our study did not have problems with thinking and memory and the rest were only mildly affected.  This suggests that decreased NREM slow wave activity may be a marker for the transition from cognitively normal to very mild Alzheimer’s disease.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: That sleep changes may be a marker for Alzheimer’s disease.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: I don’t think our findings are applicable to the clinic today.  There needs to be further studies replicating and extending these results before we can use sleep to screen for Alzheimer’s disease risk or response to an anti-AD therapy.  Clinically, I recommend that patients with a sleep concern or evidence of a sleep disorder should be referred to a sleep specialists for evaluation and treatment if needed.  Regarding the research implications of our study, measuring NREM slow wave activity or other changes in sleep-wake activity (along with other factors) may be a way to non-invasively and inexpensively screen for risk for cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease.  This would be very helpful in future clinical trials and possibly screening in the clinic.

Disclosures:   I have nothing to disclose.  All other disclosures are in the paper.

Citation:

Reduced non–rapid eye movement sleep is associated with tau pathology in early Alzheimer’s disease

BY BRENDAN P. LUCEY, AUSTIN MCCULLOUGH, ERIC C. LANDSNESS, CRISTINA D. TOEDEBUSCH, JENNIFER S. MCLELAND, AIAD M. ZAZA, ANNE M. FAGAN, LENA MCCUE, CHENGJIE XIONG, JOHN C. MORRIS, TAMMIE L. S. BENZINGER, DAVID M. HOLTZMAN

SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE09 JAN 2019 

Jan 13, 2019 @ 12:55 pm

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