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Structural Brain Correlates of Sleep Microstructure in Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 2 and its Role on Clinical Phenotype.

Cerebellum 2024 March 5
The influence of brain atrophy on sleep microstructure in Spinocerebellar Ataxias (SCAs) has not been extensively explored limiting the use of these sleep traits as surrogate biomarkers of neurodegeneration and clinical phenotype. The objective of the study is to explore the relationship between sleep microstructure and brain atrophy in SCA2 and its role in the clinical phenotype. Fourteen SCA2 mutation carriers (7 pre-manifest and 7 manifest subjects) underwent polysomnographic, structural MRI, and clinical assessments. Particularly, markers of REM and non-REM sleep microstructure, measures of cerebellar and brainstem atrophy, and clinical scores were analyzed through correlation and mediation analyses. The sleep spindle activity exhibited a negative correlation with the number of trials required to complete the verbal memory test (VMT), and a positive correlation with the cerebellar volume, but the significance of the latter correlation did not survive multiple testing corrections. However, the causal mediation analyses unveiled that sleep spindle activity significantly mediates the association between cerebellar atrophy and VMT performance. Regarding REM sleep, both phasic EMG activity and REM sleep without atonia exhibited significant associations with pontine atrophy and disease severity measures. However, they did not demonstrate a causal mediation effect between the atrophy measures and disease severity. Our study provides evidence about the association of the pontocerebellar atrophy with sleep microstructure in SCA2 offering insights into the cerebellar involvement in cognition via the control of the sleep spindle activity. Therefore, our findings may help to understand the disease pathogenesis and to better characterize sleep microstructure parameters as disease biomarkers.Clinical trial registration number (TRN): No applicable.

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