The lethargy that many Alzheimer’s patients experience is caused not by a lack of sleep, but rather by the degeneration of a type of neuron that keeps us awake, according to a study that also confirms the tau protein is behind that neurodegeneration.
The study’s findings contradict the common notion that Alzheimer’s patients sleep during the day to make up for a bad night of sleep and point toward potential therapies to help these patients feel more awake.
The data came from study participants who were patients at UC San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center and volunteered to have their sleep monitored with electroencephalogram (EEG) and donate their brains after they died.
Being able to compare the study participants’ sleep data with microscopic views of their post-mortem brain tissue was the key to answering a question that scientists have been pondering for years.
The opposite phenomenon occurs in patients with other neurodegenerative conditions, such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), who were also included in the study. Those patients have damage to the neurons that make them feel tired, so they are unable to sleep and become sleep deprived.
Release date: 04 April 2022
Source: University of California – San Francisco