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Author Notes:

E-mail: lutsey@umn.edu

Conceived and designed the experiments: PLL RFG TM NMP ES CRJ AA.

Performed the experiments: PLL RFG TM NMP ES CRJ AA.

Analyzed the data: FLN PLL RFM AA.

Wrote the paper: PLL FLN RFG TM RFM NMP ES CRJ AA.

Wing-ho Yung, Editor

The authors thank the staff and participants of the ARIC study for their important contributions.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Research Funding:

The ARIC portion of the SHHS was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute cooperative agreements U01HL53934 (University of Minnesota) and U01HL64360 (Johns Hopkins University).

The ARIC is carried out as a collaborative study supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contracts (HHSN268201100005C, HHSN268201100006C, HHSN268201100007C, HHSN268201100008C, HHSN268201100009C, HHSN268201100010C, HHSN268201100011C, and HHSN268201100012C).

Neurocognitive data is collected by U01 HL096812, HL096814, HL096899, HL096902, HL096917 from the NHLBI and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and with previous brain MRI examinations funded by R01-HL70825 from the NHLBI.

This study was additionally supported by grant R21 HL121412 to Dr. Lutsey.


  • Science & Technology
  • Multidisciplinary Sciences
  • Science & Technology - Other Topics

Sleep Apnea, Sleep Duration and Brain MRI Markers of Cerebral Vascular Disease and Alzheimer's Disease: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC)


Journal Title:



Volume 11, Number 7


, Pages e0158758-e0158758

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background A growing body of literature has suggested that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and habitual short sleep duration are linked to poor cognitive function. Neuroimaging studies may provide insight into this relation. Objective We tested the hypotheses that OSA and habitual short sleep duration, measured at ages 54-73 years, would be associated with adverse brain morphology at ages 67-89 years. Methods Included in this analysis are 312 ARIC study participants who underwent in-home overnight polysomnography in 1996-1998 and brain MRI scans about 15 years later (2012-2013). Sleep apnea was quantified by the apnea-hypopnea index and categorized as moderate/ severe (≥15.0 events/hour), mild (5.0-14.9 events/hour), or normal (<5.0 events/hour). Habitual sleep duration was categorized, in hours, as <7, 7 to ≥8, 8. MRI outcomes included number of infarcts (total, subcortical, and cortical) and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) and Alzheimer's disease signature region volumes. Multivariable adjusted logistic and linear regression models were used. All models incorporated inverse probability weighting, to adjust for potential selection bias. Results At the time of the sleep study participants were 61.7 (SD: 5.0) years old and 54% female; 19% had moderate/severe sleep apnea. MRI imaging took place 14.8 (SD: 1.0) years later, when participants were 76.5 (SD: 5.2) years old. In multivariable models which accounted for body mass index, neither OSA nor abnormal sleep duration were statistically significantly associated with odds of cerebral infarcts, WMH brain volumes or regional brain volumes. Conclusions In this community-based sample, mid-life OSA and habitually short sleep duration were not associated with later-life cerebral markers of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease. However, selection bias may have influenced our results and the modest sample size led to relatively imprecise associations.

Copyright information:

© 2016 Lutsey et al.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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