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 31, 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 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