Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Poor Sleep Is Linked to Cortical Amyloid Burden

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Poor Sleep Is Linked to Cortical Amyloid Burden

Article excerpt


MINNEAPOLIS -- People who report feeling more sleepy and less rested have elevated levels of amyloid in regions of the brain that are commonly involved in Alzheimer's disease, finds a cohort study reported at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Researchers studied 98 asymptomatic, cognitively healthy late-middle-age adults from the WRAP (Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention) program, the majority of whom were at elevated risk for the disease because of their family history.

Self-reported somnolence, poorer sleep quality, and sleep problems were significantly correlated with higher levels of amyloid deposition in the cortex overall and in four sub-regions that are typically affected in Alzheimer's disease (P less than .05).

"It does appear that there is an association between amyloid burden and sleepiness, and that relationship is present in adults who are cognitively healthy but who are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in the future. They are fairly young in terms of amyloid pathology," commented first author Kate Sprecher, a PhD candidate in the neuroscience training program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She acknowl edged that the findings may differ in a cohort not enriched for people at elevated risk.

"In terms of mechanisms, we can't say from these data whether sleep is driving amyloid deposition or whether amyloid deposition is disrupting sleep," she added. "Nonetheless, it's kind of tantalizing that sleep may be a tool that we can use to prevent or delay Alzheimer's pathology. We may be able to intervene early in the disease, when people are actually able to respond to treatment, because typically, current drugs are targeting later disease, when a great deal of neurodegeneration has already taken place. So sleep may be something that we can target really early."

The investigators plan to further investigate the observed association using objective measures of sleep and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to Ms. Sprecher. "And we'll do some longitudinal follow-up as well in our cohort to see how sleep changes might relate to actual progression of the disease," she said.

The study participants completed the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Sleep Scale and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Amyloid deposition in the brain was measured by positron-emission tomography performed with Pittsburgh Compound B.

The participants were 63 years old, on average, and two-thirds were female, reported Ms. …

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