Alteration in sleep architecture and electroencephalogram as an early sign of Alzheimer's disease preceding the disease pathology and cognitive decline

Feng Zhang, Rujia Zhong, Song Li, Zhenfa Fu, Renfei Wang, Tianxiao Wang, Zhili Huang, Weidong Le

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objective: The present work aims to evaluate the significance of sleep disturbance and electroencephalogram (EEG) alteration in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Background and Rationale: Sleep disturbance is common in patients with AD. It is not known if it can occur at the early stage of AD and if EEG recording may help identify the early sign of the disease. Historical Evolution: Sleep disturbance in AD has generally been considered as late consequence of the neurodegenerative process. A growing body of evidence has suggested that the sleep disturbance may occur at the early stage of AD. Updated Hypothesis: Based on the previous epidemiologic studies and our recent findings, we propose that sleep disturbance may play an important role in the development of AD. Sleep EEG changes may serve as a valuable early sign for AD in the prepathological stage. Early Experimental Data: Our data suggested that AβPP swe /PS1 ΔE9 transgenic AD mice at preplaque stage (3 and 4 months of age) exhibited different profile of sleep architecture and sleep EEG, which preceded the cognitive deficit and AD neuropathology. Future Experiments and Validation Studies: Future experiments should focus on sleep EEG changes in patients with mild cognitive impairment and early stage of AD. Follow-up studies in high-risk population of the elderly are equally important. In addition, the exact molecular mechanism underlying the sleep disturbance should be thoroughly investigated. Major Challenges for the Hypothesis: Studies on human participants with early stage of AD, especially the follow-up studies on the presymptomatic elderly in a large population, are difficult and time-consuming. Linkage to Other Major Theories: Our hypothesis may link previous theories to establish a bidirectional relationship between sleep disorders and AD, which may finally form a new schematic mechanism to understand the disease pathogenesis and disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-597
Number of pages8
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Sleep
  • Sleep architecture
  • Sleep disturbance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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