Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity Affects Amyloid Burden in Cognitively Normal Elderly. A Longitudinal Study

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obstructive sleep apnea, amyloid burden, Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan, cerebrospinal fluid amyloid b, cognitive impairment

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Rationale: Recent evidence suggests that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be a risk factor for developing mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. However, how sleep apnea affects longitudinal risk for Alzheimer’s disease is less well understood.

Objectives: To test the hypothesis that there is an association between severity of OSA and longitudinal increase in amyloid burden in cognitively normal elderly.

Methods: Data were derived from a 2-year prospective longitudinal study that sampled community-dwelling healthy cognitively normal elderly. Subjects were healthy volunteers between the ages of 55 and 90, were nondepressed, and had a consensus clinical diagnosis of cognitively normal. Cerebrospinal fluid amyloid β was measured using ELISA. Subjects received Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scans following standardized procedures. Monitoring of OSA was completed using a home sleep recording device.

Measurements and Main Results: We found that severity of OSA indices (AHIall [F1,88 = 4.26; P < 0.05] and AHI4% [F1,87 = 4.36; P < 0.05]) were associated with annual rate of change of cerebrospinal fluid amyloid β42 using linear regression after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and apolipoprotein E4 status. AHIall and AHI4% were not associated with increases in ADPiB-mask (Alzheimer’s disease vulnerable regions of interest Pittsburg compound B positron emission tomography mask) most likely because of the small sample size, although there was a trend for AHIall (F1,28 = 2.96, P = 0.09; and F1,28 = 2.32, not significant, respectively).

Conclusions: In a sample of cognitively normal elderly, OSA was associated with markers of increased amyloid burden over the 2-year follow-up. Sleep fragmentation and/or intermittent hypoxia from OSA are likely candidate mechanisms. If confirmed, clinical interventions for OSA may be useful in preventing amyloid build-up in cognitively normal elderly.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, v. 197, issue 7, p. 933-943