APOE gene impacts sleep depending on gender and severity of Alzheimer’s

By Ana Gajic

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.

This paper is an example of how St. Michael’s Hospital is making Ontario Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit www.unityhealth.to.



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