Less Slow-Wave Sleep, Severe OSA Linked to White Matter Abnormalities

An increase is seen in white matter hyperintensities and a decrease is seen in fractional anisotropy of the genu of the corpus callosum.

HealthDay News —  Older adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who spend less time in slow-wave sleep have a higher burden of white matter abnormalities, according to a study published online May 10 in Neurology.

Diego Z. Carvalho, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues examined whether polysomnographic sleep parameters are associated with neuroimaging biomarkers of cerebrovascular disease related to white matter integrity in 140 older adults (mean age, 72.7 ± 9.6 years) with OSA without dementia. Participants underwent at least 1 brain magnetic resonance imaging scan and polysomnogram (median interval, 1.74 years). Two cerebrovascular disease biomarkers were quantified: white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and fractional anisotropy of the genu of the corpus callosum (genu FA).

Researchers found that for every 10-point decrease in slow-wave sleep, there was a 0.058 increase and a 0.006 decrease in the log of WMH and the log of genu FA, respectively. Participants with severe OSA had higher WMH and lower genu FA compared with those with mild/moderate OSA after matching for age, sex, and slow-wave sleep.

“Finding that severe sleep apnea and a reduction in slow-wave sleep are associated with these biomarkers is important since there is no treatment for these changes in the brain, so we need to find ways to prevent them from happening or getting worse,” Carvalho said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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