Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Well-rested flies: Therapeutic agent reduces age-related sleep problems in fruit flies

Date:
April 1, 2014
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Elderly flies do not sleep well -- they frequently wake up during the night and wander around restlessly. The same is true of humans. The sleeplessness experienced by the fruit fly Drosophila is therefore a model case for human sleeping behavior. Scientists have now discovered molecules in the flies' cells that affect how the animals sleep in old age: if insulin/IGF signalling is active, the quality of the animals' sleep is reduced and they wake up more often.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has a life expectancy of approx. 8 weeks and belongs to the model organisms studied by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in their quest to understand aging in living beings.
Credit: MPI f. Biology of Ageing/ W. Weiss

Elderly flies do not sleep well -- they frequently wake up during the night and wander around restlessly. The same is true of humans. For researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging in Cologne, the sleeplessness experienced by the fruit fly Drosophila is therefore a model case for human sleeping behavior. The scientists have now discovered molecules in the flies' cells that affect how the animals sleep in old age: if insulin/IGF signalling is active, the quality of the animals' sleep is reduced and they wake up more often. Using a therapeutic agent, researchers managed to improve the flies' sleep again. The scientists suspect that the causes of sleep problems experienced by older flies and humans are similar. It is also possible that sleep problems encountered by humans may not necessarily be an inevitable side effect of aging and may even be reversible.

Flies and humans sleep in much the same way. Just like us, flies sleep during the night and are active during the day. And the quality of sleep deteriorates as both species age: the individuals nap more frequently during the day and sleep for shorter periods at night.

Gerontologists are very familiar with the insulin/IGF (insulin-like growth factor) signalling pathway. It is actually a metabolic pathway that controls the cell's response to nutritional deficiency and also affects life expectancy. Fruit flies therefore live longer if the signalling pathway is less active. The signalling pathway also plays a role in aging humans.

Researchers at the Cologne-based Max Planck Institute have now discovered that fruit flies sleep better at night and are more active during the day if insulin/IGF signalling is inhibited. "Daytime activity and night-time sleep are thereby controlled by two different components: during the day, the neurotransmitter octopamine and the adipokinetic hormone AKH increase activity in flies. At night, on the other hand, the neurotransmitter dopamine and the kinase TOR reduce the sleep periods," explains Luke Tain from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging.

Rapamycin is a substance that inhibits TOR activity, inhibiting the molecule. "We administered rapamycin to older flies and observed that they once again slept for longer periods. As a result, we were able to reverse the deterioration in sleep quality as a consequence of aging," says Tain.

The cells of such different organisms as roundworms, flies and humans use the insulin/IGF signalling pathway. Its components and function are similar in various species of living organisms. The researchers now want to study whether the signal molecules in higher animals, such as mice, have the same effect. In this way, they hope to discover treatments that will improve sleep quality in old age.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Athanasios Metaxakis, Luke S. Tain, Sebastian Grönke, Oliver Hendrich, Yvonne Hinze, Ulrike Birras, Linda Partridge. Lowered Insulin Signalling Ameliorates Age-Related Sleep Fragmentation in Drosophila. PLoS Biology, 2014; 12 (4): e1001824 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001824

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Well-rested flies: Therapeutic agent reduces age-related sleep problems in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401173138.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2014, April 1). Well-rested flies: Therapeutic agent reduces age-related sleep problems in fruit flies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401173138.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Well-rested flies: Therapeutic agent reduces age-related sleep problems in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401173138.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) — Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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