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Original Investigation
June 2018

Association of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness With Longitudinal β-Amyloid Accumulation in Elderly Persons Without Dementia

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 2Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 3Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 4Department of Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(6):672-680. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.0049
Key Points

Question  Is excessive daytime sleepiness associated with longitudinal regional β-amyloid accumulation in elderly persons without dementia?

Findings  In this cohort analysis that included 283 elderly participants without dementia, baseline excessive daytime sleepiness was associated with increased longitudinal β-amyloid accumulation in the cingulate gyrus and precuneus regions.

Meaning  Elderly individuals with excessive daytime sleepiness may be more vulnerable to β-amyloid accumulation.


Importance  Aging is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), which has been linked to cognitive decline in the elderly. However, whether EDS is associated with the pathologic processes of Alzheimer disease remains unclear.

Objective  To investigate whether EDS at baseline is associated with a longitudinal increase in regional β-amyloid (Aβ) accumulation in a cohort of elderly individuals without dementia.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This prospective analysis included participants enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, a longitudinal population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Of 2900 participants, 2172 (74.9%) agreed to undergo carbon 11–labeled Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography (PiB-PET). We included 283 participants 70 years or older without dementia who completed surveys assessing sleepiness at baseline and had at least 2 consecutive PiB-PET scans from January 1, 2009, through July 31, 2016, after excluding 45 (13.7%) who had a comorbid neurologic disorder.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Excessive daytime sleepiness was defined as an Epworth Sleepiness Scale score of at least 10. The difference in Aβ levels between the 2 consecutive scans (ΔPiB) in Aβ-susceptible regions (prefrontal, anterior cingulate, posterior cingulate-precuneus, and parietal) was determined. Multiple linear regression models were fit to explore associations between baseline EDS and ΔPiB while adjusting for baseline age, sex, presence of the apolipoprotein E ε4 allele, educational level, baseline PiB uptake, global PiB positivity (standardized uptake value ratio ≥1.4), physical activity, cardiovascular comorbidities (obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes), reduced sleep duration, respiratory symptoms during sleep, depression, and interval between scans.

Results  Of the initial 283 participants, mean (SD) age was 77.1 (4.8) years; 204 (72.1%) were men and 79 (27.9%) were women. Sixty-three participants (22.3%) had EDS. Baseline EDS was significantly associated with increased regional Aβ accumulation in the anterior cingulate (B coefficient = 0.031; 95% CI, 0.001-0.061; P = .04), posterior cingulate-precuneus (B coefficient = 0.038; 95% CI, 0.006-0.069; P = .02), and parietal (B coefficient = 0.033; 95% CI, 0.001-0.065; P = .04) regions. Association of EDS with longitudinal Aβ accumulation was stronger in participants with baseline global PiB positivity in the anterior cingulate (B coefficient = 0.065; 95% CI, 0.010-0.118; P = .02) and cingulate-precuneus (B coefficient = 0.068; 95% CI, 0.009-0.126; P = .02) regions.

Conclusions and Relevance  Baseline EDS was associated with increased longitudinal Aβ accumulation in elderly persons without dementia, suggesting that those with EDS may be more vulnerable to pathologic changes associated with Alzheimer disease. Further work is needed to elucidate whether EDS is a clinical marker of greater sleep instability, synaptic or network overload, or neurodegeneration of wakefulness-promoting centers. Early identification of patients with EDS and treatment of underlying sleep disorders could reduce Aβ accumulation in this vulnerable group.