Clinical Utility of Neurofilament Light in Older Adults With Sleep Disorders: Junxin Li, PhD, MS, RN, FAAN


The associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing provided insight on a presentation at SLEEP 2023, and whether neurofilament light should be more considered when assessing elderly patients with sleep disorders. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

"It [neurofilament light] could be considered for a more closer look in people with sleep disorders. NfL is a neurodegenerative biomarker, but it’s not specific to Alzheimer disease. It could indicate other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson disease and multiple sclerosis."

Sleep disruption is common in older adults with multiple chronic condition conditions and can occur before the clinical onset of Alzheimer disease (AD). Many older adults without dementia also notice changes in their sleep, but these disturbances occur more frequently and tend to be more severe in AD. Over the years, there has been an expansion in biomarkers that can predict neural damage and potentially at-risk individuals. At the recently concluded 2023 SLEEP Annual Meeting, held June 3-7, in Indianapolis, Indiana, a group of investigators assessed the associations of self-reported sleep quality and EEG sleep architecture with plasma neurodegeneration biomarkers in sedentary older adults without dementia.

Led by Junxin Li, PhD, MS, RN, FAAN, the research assessed biomarkers of amyloid-ß (Aß)42/42, total tau (t-tau), and neurofilament light (NfL) in 102 individuals. Two-night home-based sleep EEG measures were collected from half (n = 56) of the cohort. At the conclusion of the analysis, findings showed that higher Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores (ß = 0.84; 95% CI, 0.12-1.62), longer REM N3 duration (ß = 4.43; 95% CI, 0.48-8.18) and higher REM latency (ß = 0.04; 95% CI, 0.02-0.05) were associated with higher NfL levels. In addition, longer REM sleep duration (ß = –11.13; 95% CI, –20.55 to –1.71) was associated with lower NfL.

Li, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, sat down with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to discuss her presentation, and the reasons for it. She provided perspective on the interactions between sleep disorders and neurodegenerative conditions like AD. Furthermore, she weighed in on whether NfL should be more widely used among older adults with sleep disorders to predict conversion to AD, given the cost perspective.

Click here for more coverage of SLEEP 2023.

1. Li J, Huang J, Li M, Gooneratne N, Gill J, Spira A. Self-reported sleep quality and sleep architecture are associated with plasma neurofilament light in older adults without dementia. Presented at: 2023 SLEEP Annual Meeting; June 3-7; Indianapolis, Indiana. 0725

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