The History of Sleep Anticipates Late Life Alzheimer's Pathology

The History of Sleep Anticipates Late Life Alzheimer’s Pathology

Sleep patterns can predict the growth of Alzheimer’s pathology proteins later in life, according to new research of older men and women published in The Journal of Neuroscience. These findings could lead to new sleep-based early diagnosis and prevention measures in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is correlated with disrupted sleep and the increase of tau and proteins in the brain, which can emerge long before characteristic memory impairments appear. Two types of hippocampal sleep waves, slow oscillations, and sleep spindles are synced in young people, but have been shown to become uncoordinated in old age.

Matthew Walker, Joseph Winer, and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley found a decrease in slow oscillations/sleep spindle synchronization was connected with higher tau, while reduced slow-wave-activity amplitude was associated with higher β-amyloid levels.

The researchers also found that a decrease in sleep quantity throughout aging, from the 50s through 70s, was associated with higher levels of β-amyloid and tau later in life. This means that changes in brain activity during sleep and sleep quantity during these time frames could serve as a warning sign for Alzheimer’s disease, allowing for early precautionary care.

The Society for Neuroscience is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians dedicated to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 branches worldwide. The Journal of Neuroscience, the Society for Neuroscience’s first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to interact with the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors’ changing publishing needs, representing the breadth of the field and variety in authorship.

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