Electronic measurements showed that, unlike normal mice, the mice lacking the adenosine receptor could not increase the intensity of their slow-wave activity in response to the sleep deprivation. Under normal sleep conditions both the normal and mutant mice were almost error-free on the maze test. However, when sleep-deprived, the engineered mice made significantly more errors on the maze test than their normal counterparts. This type of skills test represents the human equivalent of the attention and working memory needed to multitask or build on tasks already done, such as being given a phone number, reaching for a pen to write it down and recalling the number, said Dr. Greene.
Linking the lack of functioning adenosine receptors to depressed normal SWA rebound response might aid in developing treatments for people with sleep-related cognitive deficits, he said.
The research also further explains the effects of caffeine, which also "docks" to adenosine receptors, preventing the docking of adenosine and keeping the caffeine-drinker awake. Dr. Greene compared the study mice's behavior response on the maze test to how a person drinking a "permanent cup of coffee" might behave.
"They probably won't get the regular amount of slow-wave activity or deep sleep as they normally would," Dr. Greene said. "This is not to say that coffee is bad, but drinking it all the time or in the evening could affect your mental performance the next day."
The researchers next will investigate the relationship between sleep, adenosine and energy metabolism, a biological process in which adenosine plays a key role.
|Contact: LaKisha Ladson|
UT Southwestern Medical Center