Monday January 20, 2020

Sleep Apnea Linked with Alzheimer’s Marker: Study

The researchers identified 43 participants, 15 per cent of the study group, whose bed partners witnessed apneas when they were sleeping

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Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer's. Flickr

Researchers have found a link between sleep apnea and increased levels of a toxic brain protein commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings suggests that people suffering from sleep apnea may have higher accumulations of an Alzheimer’s disease biomarker called tau in an area of the brain that helps with memory.

Those who had apneas had on average 4.5 per cent higher levels of tau in the entorhinal cortex than those who did not have apneas, suggests the study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 71st Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Tau, a protein that forms into tangles, is found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our research results raise the possibility that sleep apnea affects tau accumulation. But it is also possible that higher levels of tau in other regions may predispose a person to sleep apnea,” said co-author Diego Z. Carvalho from Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic.

According to the researchers, obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that involves frequent events of stopped breathing during sleep, although an apnea may also be a single event of paused breathing during sleep.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

“A person normally has fewer than five episodes of apnea per hour during sleep,” Carvalho added.

For the study, the research team involved 288 people of age 65 and older who did not have cognitive impairment.Bed partners were asked whether they had witnessed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep.

Participants had positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans to look for accumulation of tau tangles in the entorhinal cortex area of the brain, an area of the brain in the temporal lobe that is more likely to accumulate tau than some other areas.

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This area of the brain helps manage memory, navigation and perception of time.

The researchers identified 43 participants, 15 per cent of the study group, whose bed partners witnessed apneas when they were sleeping. (IANS)

Next Story

This Protein in the Human Brain Can Protect Against Alzheimer’s disease

Brain protein that could protect against Alzheimer's disease

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Human Brain
Immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play a critical role in Alzheimer's disease. Pixabay

Researchers have found that a protein that regulates white blood cells in the human brain could protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

The results published in the journal Communications Biology suggest that this protein, called CD33, could have important implications in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

“Immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play a critical role in Alzheimer’s disease,” explained study co-author Matthew Macauley, Assistant Professor at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

“They can be harmful or protective. Swaying microglia from a harmful to protective state could be the key to treating the disease,” Macauley added.

Scientists have identified the CD33 protein as a factor that may decrease a person’s likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain
CD33 protein in the brain plays a crucial role in modulating the function of microglia. Pixabay

Now, Macauley’s research has shown that the most common type of CD33 protein plays a crucial role in modulating the function of microglia.

“The fact that CD33 is found on microglia suggests that immune cells can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease under the right circumstances,” said Abhishek Bhattacherjee, first author and postdoctoral fellow in the Macauley lab.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 44 million people around the world.

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“These findings set the stage for future testing of a causal relationship between CD33 and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as testing therapeutic strategies to sway microglia from harmful to protecting against the disease – by targeting CD33,” said Macauley.

“Microglia have the potential to ‘clean up’ the neurodegenerative plaques, through a process called phagocytosis — so a therapy to harness this ability to slow down or reverse Alzheimer’s disease can be envisioned,” Macauley said. (IANS)