Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fighting Sleep: Researchers Reverse Cognitive Impairment Caused By Sleep Deprivation

Date:
October 27, 2009
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
A research collaboration of biologists and neuroscientists has found a molecular pathway in the brain that is the cause of cognitive impairment due to sleep deprivation. Just as important, the team believes that the cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation, such as an inability to focus, learn or memorize, may be reversible by reducing the concentration of a specific enzyme that builds up in the hippocampus of the brain.

Sleep deprivation can have cognitive consequences, including learning and memory deficits, but the mechanisms by which sleep deprivation affects brain function have remained unknown.
Credit: iStockphoto/Nicole Waring

A research collaboration led by biologists and neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania has found a molecular pathway in the brain that is the cause of cognitive impairment due to sleep deprivation. Just as important, the team believes that the cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation, such as an inability to focus, learn or memorize, may be reversible by reducing the concentration of a specific enzyme that builds up in the hippocampus of the brain.

It is known that sleep deprivation can have cognitive consequences, including learning and memory deficits, but the mechanisms by which sleep deprivation affects brain function remain unknown. A particular challenge has been to develop approaches to reverse the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive function.

The findings, reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature, could present a new approach to treating the memory and learning deficits of insomnia. A molecular mechanism by which brief sleep deprivation alters hippocampal function is now identified in mice, involving the impairment of cyclic-AMP- and protein-kinase-A-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity, or readiness for cognitive function.

Ted Abel, principal investigator and professor of biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, led the international team of researchers that found that sleep deprivation in mice affects an important molecular pathway in the hippocampus, a region of the brain known to be important for memory and learning. The study showed that mice deprived of sleep had increased levels of the enzyme PDE4 and reduced levels of the molecule cAMP, the latter of which is crucial in forming new synaptic connections in the hippocampus, a physiological hallmark of learning.

Researchers then treated the mice with PDE inhibitors, which rescued the sleep deprivation-induced deficits in cAMP signaling, synaptic plasticity and hippocampus dependent memory. This reversal also helped to rescue deficits in synaptic connections in the hippocampus and therefore counteract some of the memory consequences of sleep deprivation.

"Millions of people regularly obtain insufficient sleep," Abel said. "Our work has identified a treatment in mice that can reverse the cognitive impact of sleep deprivation. Further, our work identifies specific molecular changes in neurons caused by sleep deprivation, and future work on this target protein promises to reveal novel therapeutic approaches to treat the cognitive deficits that accompany sleep disturbances seen in sleep apnea, Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia."

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Human Frontier Science Program, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, a Medical Research Council (U.K.) grant, a European Union grant, the Fondation Leducq and a U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council training grant.

The study was conducted by Christopher G. Vecsey, Mathieu Wimmer and Ted Huang of the Neuroscience Graduate Group and Department of Biology at Penn; George S. Baillie, Kim M. Brown and Miles D. Houslay of the Department of Neuroscience and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow; Abel, Devan Jaganath, Robbert Havekes and Andrew Daniels of Penn's Department of Biology; and Xiang-Yao Li, Giannina Descalzi, Susan S. Kim, Tao Chen, Yu-Ze Shang and Min Zhuo of the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vecsey et al. Sleep deprivation impairs cAMP signalling in the hippocampus. Nature, 2009; 461 (7267): 1122 DOI: 10.1038/nature08488

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Fighting Sleep: Researchers Reverse Cognitive Impairment Caused By Sleep Deprivation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026125401.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2009, October 27). Fighting Sleep: Researchers Reverse Cognitive Impairment Caused By Sleep Deprivation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026125401.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Fighting Sleep: Researchers Reverse Cognitive Impairment Caused By Sleep Deprivation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026125401.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins