Mechanism and potential treatment of obstructive sleep apnea induced Alzheimer’s pathology
Obstructive sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that can lead to a repeated lack of oxygen (intermittent hypoxia) in the brain during sleep. Studies have found that patients with this condition also have an increased risk of developing dementia (Alzheimer's disease). To study this link between sleep apnea and dementia, we have created a mouse model, which has the sleep disorder and develops dementia due to the repeated lack of oxygen in the brain during sleep. We have previously shown that this repeated lack of oxygen causes the loss of a specific type of brain cell (cholinergic basal forebrain neurons). The aims of this study are therefore 1) to test if treating these mice with existing drugs will prevent brain cell death and protect them from dementia and 2) to understand the specific mechanism of how lack of oxygen leads to brain cell death. Overall this project will lead to knowledge about the molecules involved in causing and preventing brain cell death as a consequence of repeated lack of oxygen. This knowledge is necessary for the development of prophylactic drugs that protect the brain and reduce the risk of dementia in obstructive sleep apnea patients.
Dr Qian is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland.