Primus inter pares

Tracing the connection between age-related sleep changes and neurodegeneration

The international scientific journal Current Aging Science has released the work by First MSMU scientists Elena A. Lyashenko, Michael G. Poluektov, Oleg S. Levin and Polina V. Pchelina.  
In the article the authors discuss the current data on sleep changes with aging focusing on the influence of age-related degenerative changes in orexin-containing and pacemaker brain areas. Pathophysiological mechanisms of sleep disturbances in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases have much in common with normal age neurophysiological changes. Maintenance of the sleep-promoting systems function could positively modify the course of these diseases.
It is conventional perception that normal process of aging implies qualitative changes of sleep and decreasing of sleep-wake rhythm amplitude. Association between sleep disturbances and cognitive impairment especially in neurodegenerative disorders prompts suggestions that neurodegeneration underlies both sleep and cognitive disturbances. More or less severe degeneration determines normal or pathological (e.g. neurodegenerative disorders) course of aging respectively.
Meanwhile some authors suggest that good sleep itself has protective effect on brain function especially on the processes of cognition. From this point of view the age-dependent weakening of circadian clock driving force due to the loss of neurons of SCN and decrease of nocturnal secretion of melatonin could be considered as the factors involved into development of clinical features and probably processes of neurodegeneration in such diseases as AD or PD.
The authors emphasize that findings on the topic have opened the rally of researchers for further investigations of therapy implication of orexin or its pathways. The same can be said about melatonin in spite of multiple and contradictory opinions about its role in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. Thes cientists represent the following departments of the University: Department of Neurology, Russian Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education, Department of Nervous Diseases, Institute for Professional Education.
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15.03.2016

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