Sleep-Wake Cycle in Alzheimer's Disease Is Associated with Tau Pathology and Orexin Dysregulation

Claudio Liguori, Matteo Spanetta, Francesca Izzi, Flaminia Franchini, Marzia Nuccetelli, Giulia Maria Sancesario, Simona Di Santo, Sergio Bernardini, Nicola Biagio Mercuri, Fabio Placidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It is mainly characterized by a progressive deterioration of cognition, but sleep-wake cycle disturbances frequently occur. Irregular sleep-wake cycle, insomnia, and daytime napping usually occur in patients with AD in the course of the disease. Objective: The aim of the present study was to verify the sleep-wake cycle in mild to moderate AD patients compared to controls, and to evaluate the relationship between the sleep-wake cycle impairment and the neuropsychological testing, CSF AD biomarkers, and CSF orexin concentrations. Methods: Mild to moderate AD patients were enrolled and underwent 14-day actigraphic recording, sleep diary, neuropsychological testing, and CSF biomarkers analysis. All patients were compared to controls. Results: Eighteen AD patients were compared to ten controls. AD patients showed the alteration of the sleep-wake cycle, featured by sleep dysregulation and daytime wake fragmentation, with respect to controls. Considering the correlation analysis, we documented the correlation between tau proteins and orexin CSF levels and sleep-wake cycle dysregulation. Conclusion: This study confirmed the dysregulation of sleep-wake cycle in AD patients, as reflected by the daytime wake fragmentation, irregular sleep-wake rhythm, and nocturnal sleep impairment. This sleep-wake cycle disorder correlates with AD neuropathological in vivo features and brain orexin activity. Hence, we suppose that a more marked AD pathology coupled with orexinergic system dysregulation may promote sleep-wake cycle impairment in AD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-508
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • cognition
  • orexin
  • sleep-wake cycle
  • tau proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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