Daphne Chylinski: Arousals During Sleep Are Strongly Linked to Alzheimer Disease Pathophysiology

September 27, 2018

Chylinski spoke about the relationship between the increased number of arousals during sleep and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease.

“We think that sleep and wakefulness regulation is associated with the accumulation of those proteins in the brain."

Previous studies show that arousal during sleep reflects poorer sleep quality and with aging, arousals per night increases. Additionally, a growing body of evidence supports a link between sleep-wake dysfunction and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease, which includes the abnormal accumulation of Aβ and tau protein in the brain.

To discuss the relationship, Daphne Chylinkski, PhD student, Cyclotron Research Centre, University of Liège, sat down with NeurologyLive at the 24th Congress of the European Sleep Research Society in Basel Switzerland. Chylinski spoke about an ongoing study that is investigating whether arousals during sleep are associated with Aβ and tau burden in healthy aging, and whether the arousals are related to specific cognitive impairments.

The results, which cast a new light on the relationship between sleep and the pathophysiology of Alzheimer disease, suggest that an increased number of arousals during sleep is linked to whole-brain Alzheimer disease pathophysiology. This is the first time that sleep microstructure fragmentation has been linked to the protein accumulation, Chylinkski added. The research also identified that more awakenings could be associated with poorer performance in cognitive domains.

Chylinski mentioned that in the future, it would be helpful to conduct longitudinal studies to determine if the link is bi-directional to determine which comes first, are the arousals causing higher tau protein deposition in the brain or is tau protein deposition causing higher increased arousals during the night?