Why do sufferers of Alzheimer’s nap so much? Study suggests the disease kills the cells needed to stay awake
07/14/2020 // Virgilio Marin // Views

A study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association found that in people with Alzheimer's, tau proteins promote the degeneration of brain regions responsible for keeping people awake. This explains why excessive daytime napping is common among people with the disease and suggests that it could be an early sign of Alzheimer's.

Previous studies have explored the link between daytime napping and Alzheimer's disease. While some consider it the brain's way of compensating for poor nighttime sleep, which can be caused by Alzheimer's-related disruptions, others argue that the sleep problems themselves are what causes the disease to progress.

In their study, researchers at University of California, San Francisco and the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil showed that there is a direct connection between excessive daytime napping and Alzheimer's disease. They also showed that tau protein tangles play a larger role in Alzheimer's than the more frequently associated amyloid plaques.

Daytime napping may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer's

Tau proteins are found in neurons and perform important functions, such as stabilizing the microtubules that help transport nutrients and other substances from one part of the nerve cell to another. However, tau dysfunction can cause these proteins to disarrange and misfold in a specific way, forming neurofibrillary tangles that contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

For their study, the researchers examined the brains of 13 deceased Alzheimer's patients and compared them to the brains of seven healthy individuals. They measured Alzheimer's pathology, tau protein levels and the number of neurons present in three brain regions associated with wakefulness, namely, the locus coeruleus, the lateral hypothalamic area and the tuberomammillary nucleus.


The researchers found that in the Alzheimer's patients, all three brain regions had significant tau buildup. This caused those regions to lose as much as 75 percent of the neurons.

"It’s remarkable because it’s not just a single brain nucleus that’s degenerating, but the whole wakefulness-promoting network," said Jun Oh, the lead author of the study.

Oh and his colleagues also studied brain samples from seven individuals with different forms of tau-related dementia. Unlike in the Alzheimer's patients, tau buildup did not affect the neural networks associated with wakefulness in these individuals. (Related: Understanding the medical differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia.)

These findings demonstrate that wakefulness-promoting neurons are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of tau aggregation only in Alzheimer's disease. They also suggest that excessive daytime napping may be an early symptom of Alzheimer's, especially if it's not accompanied or caused by significant sleep problems at night.

A new target for Alzheimer's treatment

Previously, scientists have focused most of their attention on amyloid proteins, which are known to form plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. But in an earlier study, Lea Grinberg, Oh's co-author, and her colleagues investigated whether amyloid plaques or tau tangles are linked to neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as agitation, anxiety, appetite changes, depression and sleep disturbances. These symptoms often precede the more common signs of Alzheimer's, including memory problems.

Grinberg and her team found no association between amyloid plaques and mood-related symptoms. However, they found that tau tangles were already present in the brainstems of individuals with early-stage Alzheimer's. Although they lacked memory changes, these individuals had increased rates of one or more neuropsychiatric symptoms.

These findings, according to Grinberg, clearly show that tau proteins, and not beta-amyloid, are involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease. She also believes that this new knowledge can help researchers find a way to reduce the burden of Alzheimer's in aging adults.

"These results could have major implications for Alzheimer’s drug trials focused on early degenerative changes, where people have been seeking tractable clinical outcomes to target in addition to early cognitive decline," said Alex Ehrenberg, the lead author of the study.

For more news on Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, visit Dementia.news.

Sources include:




UCSF.edu 1

UCSF.edu 2

Take Action:
Support Natural News by linking to this article from your website.
Permalink to this article:
Embed article link:
Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use is permitted with credit to NaturalNews.com (including a clickable link).
Please contact us for more information.
Free Email Alerts
Get independent news alerts on natural cures, food lab tests, cannabis medicine, science, robotics, drones, privacy and more.
App Store
Android App
eTrust Pro Certified

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2022 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

This site uses cookies
Natural News uses cookies to improve your experience on our site. By using this site, you agree to our privacy policy.
Learn More
Get 100% real, uncensored news delivered straight to your inbox
You can unsubscribe at any time. Your email privacy is completely protected.