Cognition and Alzheimer's risk in OSA

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a highly prevalent chronic illness, characterised by repetitive collapse of the airway during sleep, causing falls in blood oxygen levels and sleep disruption. OSA is associated with cognitive deficits, especially memory impairments. Another common condition, dementia, is in the top 4 causes of burden of disease of high-income nations. It affects over 340,000 Australians. OSA is common in patients with dementia, with estimates of 38-45% of dementia patients having OSA. The risk of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and vascular dementia has been shown to increase in patients with OSA. However, a direct causal link between these two conditions has not been established.
Beta-amyloid deposits are commonly found in the brains of patients with dementia, and are implicated in the development of dementia. Positron emission tomography (PET) can be used to assess levels of amyloid in the brains of patients, and these levels can be associated with cognitive function. Previous studies performed at Austin Health have found significant associations between amyloid levels and memory impairment in patients with mild cognitive impairment. To date, no studies have examined whether OSA is associated with higher levels of beta amyloid deposits or AD-type neural changes, or how these changes relate to cognitive performance.
This study will use PET scanning techniques to examine the levels of amyloid in the brains of patients with OSA, and compare these to brain scans of healthy controls from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) study. This study will also conduct cognitive assessments in the OSA patients and examine associations between cognitive performance and amyloid levels.
Identifying potential biomarkers of amyloid burden in OSA could have important implications for early detection and risk assessment. Early identification of the risk of developing dementia in patients with OSA is important as it allows the possibility of a simple intervention that targets the sleep disorder that may be contributing towards the development of neural and cognitive impairment, before it progresses to dementia.

Full Name

Amyloid deposition and cognitive function in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Primary Investigator

Melinda Jackson


Sleep > Obstructive Sleep Apnoea


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