Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How muscles are paralyzed during sleep: Finding may suggest new treatments for sleep disorders

Date:
July 17, 2012
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
Two powerful brain chemical systems work together to paralyze skeletal muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, according to new research. The finding may help scientists better understand and treat sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, tooth grinding, and REM sleep behavior disorder.

A new study finds that two powerful brain chemical systems work together to paralyze skeletal muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Credit: iStockphoto

Two powerful brain chemical systems work together to paralyze skeletal muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, according to new research in the July 18 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The finding may help scientists better understand and treat sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, tooth grinding, and REM sleep behavior disorder.

During REM sleep -- the deep sleep where most recalled dreams occur -- your eyes continue to move but the rest of the body's muscles are stopped, potentially to prevent injury. In a series of experiments, University of Toronto neuroscientists Patricia L. Brooks and John H. Peever, PhD, found that the neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine caused REM sleep paralysis in rats by "switching off" the specialized cells in the brain that allow muscles to be active. This finding reversed earlier beliefs that glycine was a lone inhibitor of these motor neurons.

"The study's findings are relevant to anyone who has ever watched a sleeping pet twitch, gotten kicked by a bed partner, or has known someone with the sleep disorder narcolepsy," said Dennis J. McGinty, PhD, a behavioral neuroscientist and sleep researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. "By identifying the neurotransmitters and receptors involved in sleep-related paralysis, this study points us to possible molecular targets for developing treatments for sleep-related motor disorders, which can often be debilitating," he said

The researchers measured electrical activity in the facial muscles responsible for chewing of sleeping rats. Brain cells called trigeminal motor neurons communicate the brain's message to move to these muscles. Previous research suggested neurotransmitter receptors called ionotropic GABAA/glycine receptors in the motor neurons caused REM sleep paralysis. However, when the researchers blocked these receptors, REM sleep paralysis still occurred.

The researchers found that to prevent REM sleep paralysis, they had to block both the ionotropic receptors and metabotropic GABAB receptors, a different receptor system. In other words, when the motor cells were cut off from all sources of GABA and glycine, the paralysis did not occur, allowing the rats to exhibit high levels of muscle activity when their muscles should have been inactive. The data suggest the two neurotransmitters must both be present together to maintain motor control during sleep, rather than working separately.

The finding could be especially helpful for those with REM sleep disorder, a disease that causes people to act out their dreams. This can cause serious injuries to patients and others around them. It is also often an early indicator of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's.

"Understanding the precise mechanism behind these chemicals' role in REM sleep disorder is particularly important because about 80 percent of people who have it eventually develop a neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson's disease," study author Peever added. "REM sleep behavior disorder could be an early marker of these diseases, and curing it may help prevent or even stop their development," he said.

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "How muscles are paralyzed during sleep: Finding may suggest new treatments for sleep disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711131030.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2012, July 17). How muscles are paralyzed during sleep: Finding may suggest new treatments for sleep disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711131030.htm
University of Toronto. "How muscles are paralyzed during sleep: Finding may suggest new treatments for sleep disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711131030.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. 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