Sleep disturbance linked Alzheimer's

11 December 2014

Healthy, elderly research participants who are less rested show higher levels of amyloid deposition in regions of the brain that are affected in Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

The report, presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, suggests that, if sleep disturbance causes amyloid accumulation, it could direct new treatments to prevent the progression of cognitive deficits in late life.

Previous studies have shown that sleep is important for proper neurological health, with sleep apnea being linked to cognitive dysfunction. The new research used positron emission tomography (PET) to visualise deposits of amyloid, which is a key protein that is especially high in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.

A team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied the relationship between sleep quality and brain amyloid levels in a group of 98 cognitively healthy volunteers. The participants filled out questionnaires about their sleep and any related problems.

Those who reported being sleepy showed higher levels of amyloid accumulation in areas of the cerebral cortex that are heavily affected in Alzheimer's disease.

Posted by Jeanette Royston​

 

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