The gene most often associated with risk of Alzheimer's Disease impacts sleep depending on gender and the severity of Alzheimer's in a patient, suggests a study led by researchers at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science (KRCBS).
Selected as an Editor's Choice article by Current Alzheimer Research, this work examined the relationship of abnormal sleep behavior to Apolipoprotein (APOE) ε4 allele and to the lesions in the brain responsible for the symptoms of this disease. APOE ε4 allele has previously been established as the major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
The findings suggest that one effect of this gene variant is to alter sleep prior to the development of Alzheimer's disease. These findings are consistent with previous evidence on the effect of this gene.
"This is an important topic to explore further because sleep disturbances constitute a major disruption for caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's Disease," said Dr. David Munoz, project investigator at the KRCBS. "It has also been proposed that alterations in sleep drive the development of Alzheimer's disease."
The researchers found the effects of the gene studied are seen in women only. In elderly patients without Alzheimer's disease, carriers of APOE ε4 have significantly more nighttime disturbances than non-carriers.
As a next step, Dr. Munoz and his team will look into the timeline of sleep disturbances throughout the development of Alzheimer's, along with the timing of declines in cognitive testing.