Alzheimer disease and sleep habits

It is known how the formation of brain plaques can bring people to being affected by Alzheimer’s Disease(AD). This devastating neurodegenerative disease in an initial phase can cause memory problems, but at more advanced level can cause even behavioural changes, such as mood swing, or problems with language.

The main component of these plaques is the Amyloid ꞵ-peptide(Aꞵ), and so the accumulation of Aꞵ has been accounted as primary cause in AD pathogenesis. Furthermore, particular genetic mutations can increase the Aꞵ deposition. As a result, the so called “amyloid hypothesis” has become central in the study of AD. More interested reader can find all the information in the genetic modification and the different trials that have been done to access this hypothesis in the article: Hardy, John, and Dennis J. Selkoe. “The amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease: progress and problems on the road to therapeutics.” science 297.5580 (2002): 353-356. What seems to be the primary influence and the rest of the disease process is the result of an imbalance between Aꞵ production and Aꞵ clearance.

Anyway, looking at the several different studies that has been conducted on the Aꞵ, brings to the controversial results. Many correlations between Aꞵ depositions and AD symptoms have been discovered, but not every time they the relationship is so close and clear. Even though, since no alternative hypothesis explaining the cause and early pathogenesis of AD with a so strong experimental support has come out, the work has to continue in this direction in order to have a better understanding of AD. Among them two correlations are for example the one with the inhibition of long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, that is required for memory formation (D.Games et al., Nature 373, 523 (1995)) and the one with the interference with synaptic plasticity.

A particular correlation that we want to report here is the one connected with the sleep. Indeed, it has been shown that poor sleep habit can increase the deposit of Aꞵ, and so the probability to be affected later on by AD goes up. A very clear explanation of most of the information reported here, the correlation with sleep, and a speech in favour of the first and better solution to this neurodegenerative disease, that is prevention, are reported in this TedXTalk speech by Lisa Genova:

In conclusion, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful activities that can help you to smooth the effects of AD, as explained by Lisa Genova, is to keep learning and make you brain engaged and active, so that to increase the number of neuronal connections. In this way you create sort of rescue connections to maintain the access to all the information in your brain.

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