Research ArticleAlzheimer’s Disease

Reduced non–rapid eye movement sleep is associated with tau pathology in early Alzheimer’s disease

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Science Translational Medicine  09 Jan 2019:
Vol. 11, Issue 474, eaau6550
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau6550

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Losing sleep over Alzheimer’s disease

In patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and tau protein tangles accumulate in the brain long before the appearance of clinical symptoms. Early intervention is critical for slowing neurodegeneration and disease progression. Therefore, reliable markers of early AD are needed. Lucey et al. analyzed sleep patterns in aging cognitively normal subjects and showed that non–rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep negatively correlated with tau pathology and Aβ deposition in several brain areas. The results show that alterations in NREM sleep may be an early indicator of AD pathology and suggest that noninvasive sleep analysis might be useful for monitoring patients at risk for developing AD.