MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Brandon Hauer, Neuroscience PhD Student
Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute
Clayton Dickson, Professor
Departments of Psychology, Physiology, and the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute,
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Our lab is interested in the dynamics of sleep and sleep-like rhythms in the forebrain. One particular interest relates to how the brain can spontaneously switch between very different states like rapid eye movement sleep (REM, or dreaming sleep) and slow-wave sleep (deep, restorative stage of sleep).
We noticed that administering 100% oxygen to rats in an anesthetized preparation that closely models natural sleep produced an immediate and lasting switch into a slow-wave brain state. This happened as well in naturally sleeping rats. Interestingly, increasing carbon dioxide concentrations or decreasing oxygen in inspired air produced the opposite effect, namely a switch into activated or REM-like states.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Oxygen has a critical role in regulating brain state especially during sleep. This suggests that oxidative metabolism might well encourage the brain to switch into a slow-wave state, promoting a more restorative environment for both body and brain. High concentrations of oxygen are currently administered in medical situations (emergency medicine, surgery, clinical anesthesia, etc.), and our results suggest that the therapeutic benefits of oxygen may also extend to individuals with disrupted sleep, enhancing deep, restorative, slow-wave sleep. Of course, this needs to be tested in humans first and it would be nice to know exactly what the mechanisms are that promote slow-wave states in the rats before this could become a therapeutic reality.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We would encourage future researchers across a variety of fields to carefully control for oxygen concentrations in inspired air, given the considerable effect it can have on brain state. This has important ramifications for studies done under anesthesia or in other environments where test subjects may be breathing gases with altered concentrations of oxygen.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: We would also like to acknowledge the hard work of the other co-first authors on this study, Biruk Negash and Kingsley Chan, whose efforts over the years were critical for its completion. No other disclosures.
Brandon E. Hauer ,Biruk Negash ,Kingsley Chan, Wesley Vuong, Frederick Colbourn et al
21 SEP 2018https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00373.2018
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