The K-complex (KC) is one of the hallmarks of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep. Recent observations point to a drastic decrease of spontaneous KCs in Alzheimerâs disease (AD). However, no study has investigated when, in the development of AD, this phenomenon starts. The assessment of KC density in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a clinical condition considered a possible transitional stage between normal cognitive function and probable AD, is still lacking. The aim of the present study was to compare KC density in AD/MCI patients and healthy controls (HCs), also assessing the relationship between KC density and cognitive decline. Twenty amnesic MCI patients underwent a polysomnographic recording of a nocturnal sleep. Their data were compared to those of previously recorded 20 HCs and 20 AD patients. KCs during stage 2 NREM sleep were visually identified and KC densities of the three groups were compared. AD patients showed a significant KC density decrease compared with MCI patients and HCs, while no differences were observed between MCI patients and HCs. KC density was positively correlated with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores. Our results point to the existence of an alteration of KC density only in a full-blown phase of AD, which was not observable in the early stage of the pathology (MCI), but linked with cognitive deterioration.
- Alzheimerâs disease
- Amnesic mild cognitive impairment
- Cognitive decline
- Neuroscience (all)