Around 850,000 people in the UK are thought to have dementia. More than half suffer from Alzheimer’s. Progressive mental decline is the main feature of this condition, leading to cognitive impairments that can lead to confusion and memory loss. One protein, named tau, is found in higher concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer‘s patients. Research suggests that it only takes one night of disrupted sleep to increase the production of this disease-inducing protein.
Researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, analysed 15 healthy young men’s sleeping habits at a clinic.
The men had their blood tested for Tau levels before, during and after a complete night’s rest.
After one night of sleepless nights, men experienced an average 17 percent rise in blood tau levels, as opposed to a 2 percent increase following a night of good sleep.
The association of Tau protein with various diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s is well-known.
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The brains of Alzheimer’s patients are often affected by two types of pathology.
Plaques, made up of fragments of protein called Amyloid, can often be found between nerve cells. This prevents them from communicating.
Alternately, fibers may cause knots in cells. They are made up of tau protein.
This study is just one example of the many that suggests people who have disturbed or irregular sleeping patterns are more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Jonathan Cedernaes (author of the study) said that he believes this gives at least an indication of how young people should be taking care of their sleep.
The doctor suggested that clinical trials be conducted to determine if optimising sleep can slow down or stop this buildup.
A lack of sleep, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, could also be a sign that the condition is developing. This association will need to be confirmed by further research.
Although the exact role of tau proteins is not known, it has been shown that the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are affected by misfolding and unusually-shaped.
Currently, the NHS does not have any imaging equipment that can track brain tau concentrations beyond clinical trials.
Re-cognition Health CEO and neuroradiologist Doctor MacSweeney stated that the objective was to recognize symptoms and to use advanced biomarkers to diagnose accurately, sometimes up to two years before it usually occurs.
As with any medical condition, it is important to start treatment as soon as possible.
This opportunity exists in the UK today, however it is only available through clinical trials.
Publiated at Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 22.31:51 +0000