Previous studies have demonstrated that sleep-breathing disorders, and especially obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), can be observed in patients with a higher risk of progression to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recent evidence indicates that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) AD-biomarkers are associated with OSA. In this study, we investigated these associations in a sample of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that is considered the first clinical phase of AD, when patients showed biomarkers consistent with AD pathology. A total of 57 patients (mean age = 66.19; SD = 7.13) with MCI were included in the study. An overnight polysomnography recording was used to assess objective sleep parameters (i.e. apnea/hypopnea index [AHI], total sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, arousal index, awakening, stage 1, 2, and slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep, periodic limb movement index, O2 saturation during sleep, and percentage of time O2 saturation <90%). Phosphorylated-tau (P-tau), total-tau (T-tau), and amyloid-beta 42 (Aβ42) were measured in CSF. Unadjusted correlation analyses showed that a higher AHI (reflecting higher OSA severity) was related to higher P-tau and T-tau (both results remained significant after Bonferroni correction, p = 0.001). Importantly, these associations were observed even after adjusting for potential confounders (i.e. age, sex, body mass index, sleep medication, smoking, hypertension, and heart disease). Although more research is needed to establish a causal link, our findings provide evidence that OSA could be related to the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in neurodegeneration in MCI patients.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; CSF biomarkers; MCI; OSA; beta-amyloid; tau.
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