Sleep apnea is one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s

(ORDO NEWS) — Using new preclinical models, scientists have been able to show that sleep disturbances can cause brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Until now, the relationship between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s disease has been like a chicken-and-egg problem. But in the new work, scientists have convincingly shown what is the cause and what is the effect.

Researchers have long discovered a strong link between sleep apnea and several types of dementia.

A systematic review published earlier this year confirmed the correlation, finding that sleep apnea “significantly” increased the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer’s Disease

But these consistent associations of observations suffer from the classic chicken-and-egg problem. What happened before?

Does sleep apnea contribute to these neurodegenerative diseases or is sleep apnea an early symptom of these conditions?

Brain imaging studies have found a correlation between sleep apnea and increased concentrations of toxic proteins in the brain that are commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, a study in which scientists postmortem analyzed brain tissue in people with sleep apnea found pathological signs of neurodegeneration.

To try to better understand whether sleep apnea directly causes neurological damage, the authors of the new study developed a technique to model sleep apnea in mice.

The goal was to better replicate the key features of sleep apnea and explore its effects on the brain in the absence of any other comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The researchers found that chronic sleep deprivation in mice did not cause the same pathological features as this kind of sleep-deprivation disorder, although sleep deprivation impaired working memory.

Thus, the conclusion of the study is that sleep apnea appears to be a risk factor contributing to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

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