OCT 13, 2020 7:20 AM PDT

Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer's Damage Brain in Same Way

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Sleep apnea is characterized by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts, loud snoring, restless sleep, and sleepiness throughout the day. For some time, we have known that those with sleep apnea in mid-life are more likely to have Alzheimer's later on. Now, researchers have found neurological evidence for the link. 

For their study, the researchers studied 34 postmortem samples from people who had obstructive sleep apnea. While none of the patients had received a dementia diagnosis, 70% had neurofibrillary tangles, and 38% had amyloid plaques on their hippocampi. 

After adjusting factors such as age, body mass index, and sex, the researchers noticed that the severity of the condition correlated with reductions in volume in the hippocampus, a part of the brain key for memory that also reduces in volume in people with Alzheimer's. They also noticed that some had a density of plaques and tangles sufficient to qualify for Alzheimer's disease. 

Adding to this, they found that each person's severity of sleep apnea correlated with how much amyloid plaque they had in their hippocampi. They found, however, that sleep apnea did not correlate with the number of neurofibrillary tangles in the hippocampi. 

Nevertheless, in mild cases of sleep apnea, the researchers reported finding plaques and tangles only in a cortical area near the hippocampus- exactly where they first occur in Alzheimer's disease. 

Explaining how this happens, the researchers suggested that repeated bouts of oxygen deprivation from sleep apnea may cause oxidative stress to build up amyloid plaques in the hippocampus. They say that this process may make these areas more vulnerable to Alzheimer's. 

Although interesting findings, the researchers caution that their results come from a relatively small sample size, and that their study did not involve a control group. As such, further research is needed to confirm their validity. 

 

Sources: Medical News TodayOxford Academic 

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
AUG 16, 2021
Infographics
How Can We Make Sure Artificial Intelligence Won't Destroy Humanity?
AUG 16, 2021
How Can We Make Sure Artificial Intelligence Won't Destroy Humanity?
Artifical intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly pervasive in daily life. While still far from the robitic humanoids ...
AUG 21, 2021
Neuroscience
Parents' Genes Affect Child's Academic Success, Even if Not Inherited
AUG 21, 2021
Parents' Genes Affect Child's Academic Success, Even if Not Inherited
How well a child does at school is influenced both by genes inherited and not inherited from their parents. The correspo ...
AUG 24, 2021
Health & Medicine
Consciousness is so dop(amine)! Researchers show dopamine plays a key role in consciousness
AUG 24, 2021
Consciousness is so dop(amine)! Researchers show dopamine plays a key role in consciousness
Consciousness is complex, but researchers have found a key element: dopamine
SEP 09, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
SEP 09, 2021
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 136 people die from an opioid overdose every ...
OCT 07, 2021
Neuroscience
New Research Shows Relations Between Testosterone, Competition, and Competitive Endurance
OCT 07, 2021
New Research Shows Relations Between Testosterone, Competition, and Competitive Endurance
Research shows relation between testosterone levels, competitiveness, and competitive endurance
OCT 18, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Learning More About the Molecular Basis of Appetite
OCT 18, 2021
Learning More About the Molecular Basis of Appetite
Neurons in the human brain play a crucial role in appetite, satiety, and metabolism. Research has revealed more about th ...
Loading Comments...