Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


The Fertility Show


 

Sleep turns on brain cell boosting genes

09 September 2013

By Dr Tamara Hirsch

Appeared in BioNews 721

Genes involved in replenishing brain cells and their support materials are switched on during sleep, according to a study in mice.

Scientists showed that genes coding for the production of a substance known as myelin, vital for insulating the circuitry of the brain and permitting electric impulses to be fired, are preferentially turned on during sleep.

In contrast, genes implicated in cell death and stress response were found to be switched on when mice were forced to stay awake.

'For a long time, sleep researchers focused on how the activity of nerve cells differs when animals are awake versus when they are asleep', said lead scientist Dr Chiara Cirelli from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. 'Now it is clear that the way other supporting cells in the nervous system operate also changes significantly depending on whether the animal is asleep or awake’.

The researchers sequenced the whole genome of a particular type of brain cell known as an oligodendrocyte in mice after sleep, wakefulness, and sleep deprivation. These cells are involved in producing the myelin 'sheaths' that insulate nerve cells.

They found that the production of cells that become oligodendrocytes doubled during sleep and particularly during cycles of rapid eye movement, which is associated with dreaming.

Although the study was conducted in mice, the researchers say the findings suggest that chronic sleep loss might aggravate some symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that damages myelin. Dr Cirelli proposed future studies may investigate the effect of sleep patterns on MS symptoms.

'These findings hint at how sleep or lack of sleep might repair or damage the brain', said Professor Mehdi Tafti from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, who was not involved with this study.

The results were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
The Independent | 04 September 2013
 
Journal of Neuroscience | 04 September 2013
 
BBC News | 04 September 2013
 
Science Daily (press release) | 03 September 2013
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

03 July 2017 - by Lea Goetz 
New research suggests living near a road which is noisy at night-time may contribute to male infertility...
10 April 2017 - by Annabel Slater 
A gene has been linked to quality of sleep...
10 April 2017 - by Caroline Casey 
Researchers in the US have identified a gene mutation that causes a person's internal body clock to run slowly, leading to delayed sleep and difficulty in waking early...
27 July 2015 - by Ayala Ochert 
A study mimicking the effects of shift work has found that just one night without sleep alters the expression of bodyclock genes and disrupts metabolism...

02 September 2013 - by Siobhan Chan 
A 'molecular basis' of jet lag has been identified and blocked in mice by inhibiting the activity of a single gene, according to scientists...
22 April 2013 - by Dr Anna Cauldwell 
Skin cells have been directly converted into the types of cells destroyed in patients with myelin disorders like multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy in a pair of studies on mice...
28 May 2012 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
A chemical produced by stem cells promotes recovery in mice with the autoimmune neurological disease, multiple sclerosis. Hepatocyte growth factor, which is produced by human mesenchymal stem cells, appeared to both repair existing damage and prevent future neurological harm in a mouse model of the disease...
13 December 2010 - by Chris Chatterton 
Preliminary findings from a new research study have helped give scientists a new insight into how the body naturally repairs myelin, the substance that insulates nerve cells in the brain...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Jacques Cohen

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Andy Greenfield

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation