The glymphatic system plays an important role in clearing the amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau proteins that are closely linked to Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology. Glymphatic clearance, as well as Aβ accumulation, is highly dependent on sleep, but the sleep-dependent driving forces behind cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) movements essential to the glymphatic flux remain largely unclear.
Recent studies have reported that widespread, high-amplitude spontaneous brain activations in the drowsy state and during sleep, which are shown as large global signal peaks in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI), are coupled with CSF movements, suggesting their potential link to glymphatic flux and metabolite clearance.
By analyzing multimodal data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) project, here we showed that the coupling between the global fMRI signal and CSF influx is correlated with AD-related pathology, including various risk factors for AD, the severity of AD-related diseases, the cortical Aβ level, and cognitive decline over a 2-year follow-up. These results provide critical initial evidence for involvement of sleep-dependent global brain activity, as well as the associated physiological modulations, in the clearance of AD-related brain waste.