Genetics of Sleep Apnea and the Risk of Developing Dementia

Published by Luke Morais on

Genetics of Sleep Apnea and the Risk of Developing Dementia


What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing while asleep. Your brain tries to protect you by waking you up enough to breathe, but this prevents restful, healthy sleep. Over time, this condition can cause serious complications. This condition is often very manageable, especially with close adherence to prescribed treatments.


What is dementia?

Dementia is the loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning to an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia severity can start small but can develop to the person needing help with basic tasks.


What is Apolipoprotein E (APOE)

Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a type of protein that is made in both the liver and brain. It helps move cholesterol around in the body. It helps keep fats balanced in the body by moving them from one place to another and helps fix damage in the brain. APOE genes are the main genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk and dementia.


How was the research done?

Researchers will select patients using BioVU’s de-identified medical records who had a sleep study done to check for sleep apnea. People who went for a regular check-up but didn’t have any records of sleep-related issues will be included. After they select the two groups of patients, they will focus on those patients who have already had genetic testing APOE conducted through BioVU. They will look at the medical records to see if people developed dementia in the years after a sleep apnea diagnosis. They will also look at the person’s APOE genes to see if they have any effect on dementia risk. The data will allow for the evaluation of sleep apnea presence/absence, APOE status, and dementia status.


What is the importance of this study?

It is important to identify whether sleep apnea might influence the risk of dementia based on APOE genotype. Also, this may help determine the way cells and molecules respond to APOE-related proteins to increase these risks. The goal of the project is to get preliminary data before building on the idea more with a large study.