Chronic sleep deprivation altered the expression of circadian clock genes and aggravated Alzheimer's disease neuropathology

Long Niu, Feng Zhang, Xiaojiao Xu, Yuting Yang, Song Li, Hui Liu, Weidong Le

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Circadian disruption is prevalent in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and may contribute to cognitive impairment, psychological symptoms, and neurodegeneration. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of environmental and genetic factors on the molecular clock and to establish a link between circadian rhythm disturbance and AD. We investigated the pathological effects of chronic sleep deprivation (CSD) in the APPswe/PS1ΔE9 transgenic mice and their wild-type (WT) littermates for 2 months and evaluated the expression levels of clock genes in the circadian rhythm-related nuclei. Our results showed that CSD impaired learning and memory, and further exaggerated disease progression in the AD mice. Furthermore, CSD caused abnormal expression of Bmal1, Clock, and Cry1 in the circadian rhythm-related nuclei of experimental mice, and these changes are more significant in AD mice. Abnormal expression of clock genes in AD mice suggested that the expression of clock genes is affected by APP/PS1 mutations. In addition, abnormal tau phosphorylation was found in the retrosplenial cortex, which was co-located with the alteration of BMAL1 protein level. Moreover, the level of tyrosine hydroxylase in the locus coeruleus of AD and WT mice was significantly increased after CSD. There may be a potential link between the molecular clock, Aβ pathology, tauopathy, and the noradrenergic system. The results of this study provided new insights into the potential link between the disruption of circadian rhythm and the development of AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13028
Pages (from-to)e13028
JournalBrain Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • circadian rhythm
  • clock genes
  • sleep disorders
  • Circadian Clocks/genetics
  • Animals
  • ARNTL Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mice
  • Alzheimer Disease/pathology
  • Sleep Deprivation/genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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