Saturday January 18, 2020

Study Reveals Poor Sleep Linked to Genetics

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data

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Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Suffering from sleep disorder? Blame genetics. A new study has found several parts of our genetic code that could be responsible for poor sleep.

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Exeter identified as many as 47 links between our genetic code and the quality and quantity of sleep.

Among the genomic regions discovered is a gene called PDE11A. The team found that an uncommon variant of this gene affects not only how long one sleeps but also the quality of sleep.

“This study identifies genetic variants influencing sleep traits, and will provide new insights into the molecular role of sleep in humans,” said lead author Samuel Jones from the University of Exeter.

Sleep deprivation can hurt performance and health. Wikimedia commons

“Changes in sleep quality, quantity and timing are linked to several human diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and psychiatric disorders,” added Andrew Wood from the varsity.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers looked at data from 85,670 participants of UK Biobank and 5,819 individuals from three other studies, who wore accelerometers-wrist-worn devices, which record activity levels continuously.

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They found that collectively, the genetic regions linked to sleep quality are also linked to the production of serotonin-a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Serotonin is known to play a key role in sleep cycles and is theorised to help promote deeper and more restful sleep.

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data. (IANS)

Next Story

Here’s Why Genes Are Linked to Autism Risk

Research tested the ability of a low dose of the drug Ketamine, which is used clinically at higher doses as an anesthetic, to normalise the alterations in brain function induced by genetic deletion

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Autism
Importantly, the researchers found that the ability of the brain regions to communicate with other brain areas is impaired by the genetic deletion leading to Autism. Pxabay

Researchers have discovered how a genetic alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism and Tourette’s impairs brain communication.

People with a genetic deletion known as chromosome 2p16.3 deletion often experience developmental delay and have learning difficulties.

They are also around 15 times more likely to develop Autism and 20 times more likely to develop Tourette’s Syndrome, but the mechanisms involved are not completely understood.

Using brain imaging studies, neuroscientists showed that deletion of the gene impacted by 2p16.3 deletion (Neurexin1) have impacts on the function of brain regions involved in both conditions.

This genetic deletion disrupts a brain area known as the Thalamus, compromising its ability to communicate with other brain areas, said the study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

“We currently have a very poor understanding of how the 2p16.3 deletion dramatically increases the risk of developing these disorders,” said lead researcher Neil Dawson of Lancaster University in Britain.

“However, we know that the 2p16.3 deletion involves deletion of the Neurexin1 gene, a gene that makes a protein responsible for allowing neurons to communicate effectively,” Dawson said.

Deletion of the Neurexin1 gene affects brain areas involved in Autism and Tourette’s including the Thalamus, a collection of brain regions that play a key role in helping other brain areas communicate with each other.

Changes were also found in brain regions involved in processing sensory information and in learning and memory.

Importantly, the researchers also found that the ability of the Thalamic brain regions to communicate with other brain areas was impaired by the genetic deletion.

Autism
Researchers have discovered how a genetic alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism and Tourette’s impairs brain communication. Pixabay

They then tested the ability of a low dose of the drug Ketamine, which is used clinically at higher doses as an anesthetic, to normalise the alterations in brain function induced by genetic deletion.

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“Intriguingly our data suggest that Ketamine can restore some aspects of the brain dysfunction that results from 2p16.3 deletion and suggests that ketamine, or other related drugs, may be useful in treating some of the symptoms seen in autism and Tourette’s,” Dawson said. (IANS)