In early July, the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) was held in London, bringing together a consortium of dementia researchers from around the globe. Of interest at the AAIC this year, were several new research studies linking sleeping disorders with Alzheimer’s disease.
While it isn’t new to suggest that sleeping disorders are linked with Alzheimer’s disease, this new research has added weight to the finding after analysing data from close to 800 participants from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). This database contains brain scans, cognitive assessments, biomarkers, and demographic information from people with Alzheimer’s disease patients, individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and control groups.
Of specific interest in their study, the American based researchers were looking at the potential effects of sleep disordered breathing and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea on brain health, particularly in those diagnosed with either MCI or Alzheimer’s disease.
Sleep disordered breathing is characterised by repeated episodes of hypopnea (under breathing) and apnoea (not breathing) during sleep. The predominant form of apnoea, known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, occurs when an individual’s upper airway closes partially or fully, but efforts to breath continue.
Dr Michael Bubu, Applied Health Science Instructor said that our research found that Obstructive Sleep Apnoea can possibly accelerate or worsen the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Why?
The research team found that those with diagnosed sleeping disorders had higher levels of amyloid beta, as measured in their cerebral spinal fluid. This isn’t a major shock with previous research showcasing that the brain can clear up amyloid beta deposition during sleep.
However, the researchers now believe it is possible that Obstructive Sleep Apnoea may accelerate deposition of beta amyloid in the brain.
It’s not all bad news, though, with Dr Bubu saying it becomes a possible target for therapeutic intervention.
“These results highlight the importance of diagnosing and treating sleep disordered breathing, especially in people at risk for dementia and people with mild cognitive impairment,” Dr Bubu said.
To find out more about research presented at the conference click here
For more information on sleeping and dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website here
Could the increased risk be due to the lowered oxygen levels to the brain during apnea events?