Systemic inflammation as a moderator between sleep and incident dementia

Andrée Ann Baril, Alexa S. Beiser, Susan Redline, Emer R. McGrath, Hugo J. Aparicio, Daniel J. Gottlieb, Sudha Seshadri, Matthew P. Pase, Jayandra J. Himali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To determine whether C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation, moderates the association between sleep and incident dementia. Methods: We studied Framingham Heart Study participants who completed at baseline a serum CRP assessment and in-home polysomnography to measure sleep duration, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, wake after sleep onset (WASO), number of awakenings, arousal index, and apnea-hypopnea index. Participants were divided into groups according to their CRP level: low (<1 mg/L), average (1-3 mg/L), and high inflammation (>3 mg/L). Surveillance for outcomes (incident all-cause and Alzheimer's disease [AD] dementia) commenced at baseline and continued up to 22.5 years. Results: In 291 participants (mean age 67.5 ± 4.9 years, 51.6% men) followed for 13.4 ± 5.4 years, we observed 43 cases of all-cause dementia, 33 of which were clinically consistent with AD. Whereas no direct association between CRP or sleep exposures was observed with incident dementia, CRP levels interacted with nighttime wakefulness when predicting both incident all-cause and AD dementia. In the high CRP group, longer WASO (hazard ratio [HR], 2.89; 95% CI, 1.31-6.34) and more nighttime awakenings (HR, 4.55; 95% CI, 1.19-17.38) were associated with higher risk of incident dementia. In the low CRP group, fewer nighttime awakenings were associated with a higher risk of incident dementia (HR, 0.07; 95% CI, 0.01-0.68). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that inflammation moderates the association between sleep, particularly nighttime wakefulness, and dementia risk. The presence of inflammation may be an important determinant in evaluating how sleep disturbances relate to neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberzsaa164
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • C-reactive protein
  • dementia
  • epidemiology
  • inflammation
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • neurodegeneration
  • sleep
  • sleep disorders
  • sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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