Sleep Deprivation: Specific Molecular Changes Lead To Memory Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer Choi Tudor, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow
Ted Abel Lab Department of Biology 10-17
Smilow Center for Translational Research
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Tudor: We (Dr. Tudor, Dr. Abel, and colleagues) are interested in better understanding the molecular changes that occur with sleep deprivation.  Previously, we found that the expression of over 500 genes changes with sleep deprivation and that many of the genes were involved with protein synthesis.  Upon further investigation, we found that 5 hours of sleep deprivation impairs protein synthesis in the hippocampus, a brain region critical for memory.  This impairment is due to changes in mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein 2 (4EBP2) is critical to this process.  When we boosted levels of 4EBP2 in the hippocampus, mice that were sleep deprived were resistant to the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on memory.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Tudor: Our findings show that there are specific molecular changes that accompany sleep deprivation and that these changes impair memory.  Our work further underscores the importance of sleep for proper molecular signaling and subsequent brain function.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Tudor: One of the big questions that remains to be answered is what are the specific proteins whose synthesis is being impacted by sleep deprivation.  Once we figure out which proteins have impaired synthesis, we can potentially start thinking about development of therapeutics to address memory impairments associated with sleep loss.
Citation:

Neuroscience 14 abstract:

Boosting Production of Specific Brain Protein Reduces Memory Loss from Sleep Production

 

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