Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Study: Sleep Apnea May Mediate APO E [Epsilon]4 Allele-Alzheimer's Link

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Study: Sleep Apnea May Mediate APO E [Epsilon]4 Allele-Alzheimer's Link

Article excerpt

DENVER -- The well-documented association between the apolipoprotein E [epsilon]4 allele and development of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease may be mediated at least in part by obstructive sleep apnea, Ruth O'Hara, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

This is an exciting possibility, because although no therapies are available to delay the onset of dementia, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) offers a highly effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It's possible that identifying and treating this disorder in apo E [epsilon]4-positive patients could delay or perhaps even prevent the onset of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's dementia, according to Dr. O'Hara of Stanford (Calif.) University.

She presented a cross-sectional study of 36 community-dwelling nondemented older adults--mean age 70 years--half of whom possessed the apo E [epsilon]4 allele. All were assessed for cognitive performance status by the Mini-Mental State Examination and Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. The presence and severity of obstructive sleep apnea were assessed using home ventilatory polygraphy.

The most striking study finding was that although there was no difference in cognitive function between the apo E [epsilon]4-positive and -negative groups overall, apo E [epsilon]4-positive individuals with sleep apnea as defined by a higher apnea/hypopnea index had lower memory scores as reflected by worse performance on the delayed recall and short-term recall components of the Rey test. …

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