Sleep apnea treatment withdrawal linked to changes in Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers

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A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggests that withdrawal from positive airway pressure (PAP), a common treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), may lead to changes in plasma biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The research was led by Dr. Korey Kam of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, who, along with his colleagues, studied the overnight changes in plasma Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in individuals with severe OSA.

They focused on 30 individuals who regularly adhere to PAP treatment at home.

The team examined blood samples collected in the evening and the next morning across a night of sleep both during PAP treatment and after its acute withdrawal.

Aβ40 and NfL Changes Noted

Researchers found significant differences in the overnight change in neurofilament light (NfL) and amyloid β (Aβ)40 between conditions.

They observed a relative increase in NfL and a relative decrease in Aβ40 in association with PAP withdrawal. However, no differences were seen in the change in T-tau or Aβ42, other biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Linking Sleep Apnea to Brain Health

In addition, the team discovered that the number of sleep stage transitions and the amount of time the participants spent with oxygen saturation below 90% were significantly associated with NfL as a function of PAP withdrawal. No sleep or respiratory measures predicted the overnight change in Aβ40.

“Our findings add to a growing literature suggesting that untreated sleep apnea is poor for brain health and may increase the risk for neurodegenerative disease,” a co-author stated.

While this research provides valuable insights, it’s important to note that several authors have financial ties to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, and two authors hold patents relating to OSA and continuous PAP, which might be seen as potential conflicts of interest.

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The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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