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Night Shifts, Jet Leg Disrupt Rhythm of Genes

A University of Surrey study has found that the daily rhythms of our genes are disrupted when sleep times shift

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Representational image. Pixabay
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For those who work in night shifts or miss on sleep owing to heavy air travel, it is time to set the clock right to get rhythm of your genes back in shape.

A University of Surrey study has found that the daily rhythms of our genes are disrupted when sleep times shift.

“This research may help us understand the negative health outcomes associated with shift work, jet lag and other conditions in which the rhythms of our genes are disrupted,” said professor Derk-Jan Dijk from the sleep research centre at University of Surrey, England.

Researchers placed 22 participants on a 28-hour day in a controlled environment without a natural light-dark cycle.

As a result, their sleep-wake cycle was delayed by four hours each day.

Genes are a part of DNA/RNA.
Genes- A segment of DNA. Pixabay

The team then collected blood samples to measure the participants’ rhythms of gene expression.

During this disruption of sleep timing, there was a six-fold reduction in the number of genes that displayed a circadian rhythm (internal body clock with 24-hour cycle), said the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Over 97 percent of rhythmic genes became out of sync with mistimed sleep and this really explains why we feel so bad during jet lag, or if we have to work irregular shifts,” said co-author Simon Archer from the school of biosciences and medicine.

Also Read: Genes Determining Hair Colour To Boost Cancer Research

The study also revealed which genes may be regulated by sleep-wake cycles and which are regulated by central body clocks.

This finding provides new clues about sleep’s function as separate from the circadian clock.

“The results also imply that sleep-wake schedules can be used to influence rhythmicity in many biological processes, which may be very relevant for conditions in which our body clocks are altered, such as in aging,” added professor Derk-Jan Dijk. (IANS)

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Scientists Identified 80 Genes That Trigger Depression

Nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression have been identified, a finding that adds to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder, say scientists. Depression, a common mental disorder, is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

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Suspension may lead to depression.
Suspension may lead to depression. Pixabay

Nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression have been identified, a finding that adds to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder, say scientists.

Depression, a common mental disorder, is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015.

“This study identifies genes that potentially increase our risk of depression, adding to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder,” said lead author David Howard, research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Some of the pinpointed genes are known to be involved in the function of synapses, tiny connectors that allow brain cells to communicate with each other through electrical and chemical signals, the researchers said.

Opioid use may increase risk of falls, death in elderly
Old Woman. pixabay

The study could help explain why some people may be at a higher risk of developing the condition as well as help researchers develop drugs to tackle mental health conditions.

“The findings also provide new clues to the causes of depression and we hope it will narrow down the search for therapies that could help people living with the condition,” Howard added.

For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team scanned the genetic code of 300,000 people to identify areas of DNA that could be linked to depression.

The WHO has identified strong links between depression and substance use disorders and diabetes and heart disease.

Studies Show: Elderly With Symptoms of Depression Are More Prone to Memory Problems

Depression is also an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives. (IANS)

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