Characterizing the incidence of sleep disorders in a cohort of former college football players
Duncan, Kristen Marie
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CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease defined by p-tau lesions in characteristic locations of the brain, leading to cognitive impairment as well as mood and behavioral dysfunction. Exposure to repetitive head impacts is a major risk factor for developing CTE; however, additional risk factors and secondary modulating factors, which may expand available treatment and prevention options, are still being elucidated. Studies into the glymphatic system, a system of waste clearance in the brain thought to be activated during sleep, have implicated glymphatic dysfunction in the clearance of toxic proteins like amyloid-beta and hyperphosphorylated tau, as well as in cognitive decline in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, bringing into question whether sleep, through impacting glymphatic clearance, may act as a modulating factor in the development of CTE. In the present study, we began to characterize the presence of sleep disorders and their co-morbid conditions in a cohort of former college football players to gain better insight into their prevalence and the health outcomes of those with sleep conditions. Our results found higher rates of sleep apnea in the study sample, as well as an association between diagnosis with sleep apnea and diagnosis with dementia, AD, MCI, CTE, and similar disorders. Sleep apnea was significantly associated with depression, anxiety, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Further research into whether sleep disorders exacerbate CTE pathology or clinical symptoms, and whether treatment of sleep symptoms leads to better outcomes for patients with CTE, is necessary to further elucidate a potential connection.
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