05 February 2018
ByAppeared in BioNews 936
The genome-wide association study (GWAS) examined the genomes of people from the UK's Biobank, and those from the personal genomics company 23andMe Inc, based in Mountain View, California. With 1,331,010 participants, the study authors believe this is the largest GWAS to date.
An international team of scientists, lead by researchers at the VU University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, surveyed participants on their self-reported insomnia symptoms while conducting various genome analyses.
Their findings – yet to be peer-reviewed – were published on the bioRxiv pre-print server.
'Our findings reveal key brain areas and cells implicated in the neurobiology of insomnia and its related disorders, and provide novel targets for treatment,' write the authors.
In particular, many of the genes that were associated with insomnia were expressed in a type of brain cell known as a medium spiny neuron; these form 95 percent of the brain's striatum. This area is involved in voluntary movement.
The researchers also found some genetic overlap between insomnia and certain neuropsychiatric traits like anxiety and depression.