Sleep apnea and its link to Alzheimer’s-related brain changes

Summary: A new study reveals a new link between sleep apnea and brain volume in areas susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

The study found that people with Alzheimer’s disease-related amyloid plaques and severe sleep apnea were more likely to have reduced levels in areas of the brain associated with memory, such as the hippocampus. For those without amyloid plaques, even with severe sleep apnea, this association did not exist.

The study does not establish causation but suggests that some people may be more susceptible to the harmful effects of sleep apnea.

Key Facts:

  1. The study found a link between severe sleep apnea and reduced brain volume in areas related to Alzheimer’s disease and memory.
  2. The association was only seen in people with amyloid plaques, an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, and not in those without these plaques.
  3. Research has not proven that sleep apnea reduces brain volume; It only suggests one connection.

Source: AT

Studies show that sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of dementia. A new study looks at the relationship between sleep apnea and brain volume.

The study was published online on May 31, 2023 Neurology.

The study compared people with amyloid plaques in the brain as an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease and people without memory problems with people without amyloid plaques.

“We found that people with amyloid plaques had higher levels of sleep apnea and lower levels in the medial temporal lobe region of the brain, which includes the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory and Alzheimer’s disease,” said the study author. Geraldine Rouches, PhD, of Inserm in Cannes, France.

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“People without amyloid plaques don’t have this low brain volume, even if they have severe sleep apnea.”

The study did not prove that sleep apnea reduces brain volume; It shows only one association.

The study did not prove that sleep apnea reduces brain volume; It shows only one association. Credit: Neuroscience News

The study involved 122 69-year-olds without memory problems. A total of 26 people had amyloid plaques in their brains. Participants underwent brain scans, had their memory tested and had a nightly sleep study at their homes. Memory tests were repeated after an average of 21 months.

In people with amyloid plaques, more severe sleep apnea is associated with reduced brain volume in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, which may suggest brain cell loss. This link was not seen in people without amyloid plaques.

“Our results suggest that some people may be more vulnerable to the adverse effects of sleep apnea,” Rachs said.

“Those in the early stages of the Alzheimer’s continuum showed a particular vulnerability to sleep apnea.

“Further studies are needed to see if treating sleep-disordered breathing can improve cognition and prevent or delay neurodegeneration.”

In the entire group, lower levels in the hippocampus at the beginning of the study were associated with lower scores on a test of episodic memory at the end of the study.

There was no correlation between sleep apnea at the beginning of the study and memory scores at the end of the study.

A limitation of the study is that the same version of the verbal learning test was administered at the beginning and end of the study, so some memory loss may have been reduced due to familiarity with the test.

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Finance: The study was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, INCERM, the Region of Normandy and the MMA Corporate Foundation of Future Entrepreneurs (Fondation d’Entreprise MMA des Entrepreneurs du Futur).

This sleep apnea research news

Author: Natalie Conrad
Source: AT
Contact: Natalie Conrad – Ann
Image: The film is credited to Neuronews

Original Research: The findings will be published Neurology

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