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Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Cerebrovascular Disease, and Amyloid in Older Adults with Down Syndrome Across the Alzheimer's Continuum

May 2022 | Lao et al. - Sleep Advances: A Journal of the Sleep Research Society (2022)


We determined the extent to which obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with increased cerebrovascular disease and amyloid burden, and the relation of the two processes across clinical Alzheimer's disease (AD) diagnostic groups in adults with Down syndrome (DS). Adults with DS from the Biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease in Down Syndrome (ADDS) study were included given available research MRI (n = 116; 50 ± 8 years; 42% women) and amyloid PET scans (n = 71; 50 ± 7 years; 39% women) at the time of analysis. Participants were characterized as cognitively stable (CS; 64%), with mild cognitive impairment-DS (MCI-DS; 23%), with possible AD dementia (5%), or with definite AD dementia (8%). OSA was determined via medical records and interviews. Models tested the effect of OSA on MRI-derived cerebrovascular biomarkers and PET-derived amyloid burden, and the moderating effect of OSA and AD diagnosis on biomarkers. OSA was reported in 39% of participants, which did not differ by clinical AD diagnostic group. OSA was not associated with cerebrovascular biomarkers but was associated with greater cortical amyloid burden. White matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume (primarily in the parietal lobe), enlarged perivascular spaces, and cortical and striatal amyloid burden were greater across clinical AD diagnostic groups (CS<MCI-DS<possible AD<definite AD). OSA increased the differences in WMH volumes across clinical AD diagnostic groups, primarily in the frontal and temporal lobes. Adults with DS and OSA had greater amyloid burden and greater cerebrovascular disease with AD. Importantly, OSA may be a modifiable risk factor that can be targeted for intervention in this population at risk for AD.

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