The Emerging Relationship Between Interstitial Fluid–Cerebrospinal Fluid Exchange, Amyloid-β and Sleep

Erin L. Boespflug, Jeffrey J. Iliff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques are a key histopathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and soluble Aβ species are believed to play an important role in the clinical development of this disease. Emerging biomarker data demonstrate that Aβ plaque deposition begins decades before the onset of clinical symptoms, suggesting that understanding the biological determinants of the earliest steps in the development of AD pathology may provide key opportunities for AD treatment and prevention. Although a clinical association between sleep disruption and AD has long been appreciated, emerging clinical studies and insights from the basic neurosciences have shed important new light on how sleep and Aβ homeostasis may be connected in the setting of AD. Aβ like many interstitial solutes, is cleared in part through the exchange of brain interstitial fluid and cerebrospinal fluid along a brain-wide network of perivascular pathways recently termed the glymphatic system. Glymphatic function is primarily a feature of the sleeping brain, rather than the waking brain, and is slowed in the aging and posttraumatic brain. These changes may underlie the diurnal fluctuations in interstitial and cerebrospinal fluid Aβ levels observed in both the rodent and the human. These and other emerging studies suggest that age-related sleep disruption may be one key factor that renders the aging brain vulnerable to Aβ deposition and the development of AD. If this is true, sleep may represent a key modifiable risk factor or therapeutic target in the preclinical phases of AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2018


  • Alzheimer's
  • Aquaporin-4
  • Astrocytes
  • CSF
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Glymphatic
  • Interstitial fluid
  • Perivascular
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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