More Connections Between Alzheimer’s and Sleep Apnea

This is a study that Dr. Mack Jones mentioned during my interview with him a few months ago about a mice developing Alzheimer’s-like brain findings after chronic oxygen deprivation. 


Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are the two hallmark findings on autopsy studies in patients with Alzheimer’s. Accumulation of amyloid-β protein is the major component of plaques, which is derived from a breakdown of β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) by an enzyme called β-site APP cleavage enzyme (BACE1). It turns out that hypoxia (lowered levels of oxygen) stimulates BACE1 activity, which cleaves APP, leading to more accumulation of β-amyloid protein. This was reported in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal in 2006. The study authors placed mice in hypoxic environments (16 hrs/dy for one month) and looked at their brains after being sacrificed. They found significantly increased numbers of amyloid plaques compared with control mice. These plaques were also histologically very similar to what humans have with Alzheimer’s.


My question to you is: What common medical condition that I mention all the time causes hypoxia for 8 hours every night for years or decades?




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3 thoughts on “More Connections Between Alzheimer’s and Sleep Apnea

  1. Dr. Park,

    I a so pleased to hear that you see a possible link between Sleep Apnea & Alzheimers.

    I was watching the HBO program on Alzheimers recently, hosted by Maria Shriver- Swartzenegger – especially the scientific section – and immediately started seeing the commonality between the results of poor sleep and what leads to Alzheimers.

    What I could gather, was that the balance between production & removal of the Beta-amyloid precursor protein was linked to the proper functions of the body.

    Since their is a natural link to the association with hypertension in Alzheimers and with long-term untreated sleep apnea, there must be some type of connection ( perhaps poor sleep, reduced oxygen and the poor removal of APP )

    I am a big proponent of a more balanced lifestyle and am now heading up sales
    at a new Home Medical Equipment company in Chicago. We are focusing on Sleep Apnea recognition and teaming up with Primary Care Physicians and their patients to assure recognition, treatment, compliance and long-term overall good health. I believe there is much we need to know to see the negative side of working too much and not enjoying the fruits of our labors.

    I am pleased to know of the direction that your mind is working. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts about the value of a healthy lifestyle, including the very important aspects of sleep, good diet & regualar exercise.


    Dan Robertson, MBA, RRT
    Director, Business Development
    RestAssured Home Medical Equipment
    312-226-9989 / 773-368-2096 ( cell )

  2. Dan,

    Thanks for your response. There are so many studies that support the link between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s. The problem is that no one is willing to speak up and point out the pink elephant in the room.

  3. I finally had a sleep test 3 years ago and it was determined I needed a sleep machine. It was the best thing that ever happened. I was of good health but always tired. I feel like I was sleep walking the first 65 years of my life. I have so much more energy, read more without falling asleep, dont need 10 hours of sleep when I feel terrific after 7 hours. My parents both had dementia/alzheimer and I know they had sleep problems. I am hoping that not only can I be more active, not fall asleep in movies, walk, ski, swim , enjoy national geographic but perhaps not fall victim of alzheimers. My mind feels so clear and I just cringe when I hear people will not use their machines because they don’t give it time to get use too. I am fortunate that my husband doesnt mind when I put on the darth vader mask.