Structural brain correlates of obstructive sleep apnoea in older adults at risk for dementia

Eur Respir J. 2018 Jul 4;52(1):1800740. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00740-2018. Print 2018 Jul.


This study aimed to investigate associations between obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and cortical thickness in older adults with subjective and objective cognitive difficulties, who are considered "at-risk" for dementia.83 middle-aged to older adults (51-88 years) underwent neuropsychological testing, polysomnography assessment of OSA and a structural magnetic resonance imaging brain scan. A principal components analysis was performed on OSA measures. Cortical thickness and subcortical volumes were compared to extracted components of "oxygen desaturation" and "sleep disturbance".Oxygen desaturation was significantly related to reduced cortical thickness in the bilateral temporal lobes (left: r=-0.44, p<0.001; right: r=-0.39, p=0.003). Conversely, sleep disturbance was associated with increased thickness in the right postcentral gyrus (r=0.48, p<0.001), pericalcarine (r=0.50, p=0.005) and pars opercularis (r=0.46, p=0.009) and increased volume of the hippocampus and amygdala. Decreased thickness in the bilateral temporal regions was associated with reduced verbal encoding (r=0.28, p=0.010).Given the clinical significance of this sample in terms of dementia prevention, these changes in grey matter reveal how OSA might contribute to neurodegenerative processes in older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*