Experts have somewhat approached the mystery of the development of this type of dementia by studying the sleep of the so-called. alzheimer’s mice. In both mammals and humans, the reticular nucleus of the thalamus (TRN) is responsible for the quality of sleep, which is both a sensory control point for signals from all senses except smell, and a “wall” that protects the thalamus from external signals during sleep.
It is during sleep that the work of this nucleus becomes especially active, but if it does not work well, sleep becomes intermittent, as a result of which the alzheimeric protein beta-amyloid accumulates in the brain cells, which, in conjunction with another protein of this group, affects the destruction of neural connections.
On this basis, a “vicious circle” is launched – poor sleep affects the development of the disease, and it reduces the depth and quality of sleep, making it intermittent. But it is during slow-wave sleep – which is accompanied by the absence of dreams and a decrease in peripheral vascular tone – that the brain cells are cleared of protein toxins.
With age, with this quality of sleep, memory problems begin, which can lead to senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type – Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists see the solution in stimulating the neurons of the reticular nucleus. When mice underwent such procedures, they began to sleep better, and protein deposits decreased markedly. Experts hope to create a drug based on the latest research that will affect the work of TRN, improve the quality of sleep and slow down the disease. But for now, this is a hypothesis.