On Dec. 16, Dr. David Holtzman of Washington University spoke about his work on the connection between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, and sleep’s possible role in managing the brain’s Abeta and tau burdens.
“We found that, in the brains of animals and humans, Abeta is regulated by neuronal activity,” Holtzman says. “The levels of Abeta fluctuated during the day and night. During wakefulness, the levels of protein were higher than when sleeping, and if an animal was sleep-deprived, it caused a much earlier onset of Abeta deposition in the brain. This suggests that if you optimize non-REM (deep) sleep, it might delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. But once you get the pathology, it further disrupts your sleep.”