metadigital Posted September 25, 2006 Share Posted September 25, 2006 Why we're not immune to losing sleepLack of sleep could be worse for the body than we thought, at least if humans react to it in the same way as rats do Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and her team discovered that rats seem to mount an immune response to sleep deprivation, producing molecules that ordinarily are associated with stress. This suggests that chronic sleep deprivation could lead to stress-related illness, such as heart disease, for example. Porkka-Heiskanen's team was studying how the brain triggers "recovery" sleep to overcome the effects of sleep loss. Their earlier work in rats had shown that levels of nitric oxide increase in the basal forebrain during periods of sleep deprivation and that this plays a role in prompting recovery sleep. They had also found that an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase (NOS) was responsible for jump-starting the production of nitric oxide. But where was the NOS enzyme coming from? Porkka-Hieskanen had expected that the NOS produced by the brain would be in a so-called "constitutive form", in other words, it would be made regardless of the need for it. Instead, her team found that the NOS was in an "inducible form" (iNOS) which is usually produced when the body mounts an immune response to stress (European Journal of Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.05019.x). "This was a big surprise," says Porkka-Heiskanen. "It means that the body experiences sleep deprivation as some kind of hostile threat." The researchers also found that the rats began producing iNOS after being deprived of sleep for just 10 minutes. "So even short periods of sleep deprivation are able to create this reaction," says Porkka-Heiskanen. "If it becomes chronic, we are really putting a big strain on the body." OBSCVRVM PER OBSCVRIVS ET IGNOTVM PER IGNOTIVS OPVS ARTIFICEM PROBAT Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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