The team also asked the converse question: Can protein misfolding induce altered sleep patterns in young animals. Another drug, tunicamycin, induces protein misfolding and stress, and when the team fed it to young flies, their sleep patterns shifted towards those of aged flies, with less sleep overall, more interrupted sleep at night, and longer recovery from sleep deprivation.
Molecular analysis of sleep-deprived and PBA-treated flies suggested that PBA acts through the unfolded protein response. PBA, Naidoo says, had two effects on aged flies: it "consolidated" baseline sleep, increasing the total amount of time slept and shifted recovery sleep, after sleep deprivation, to look more like that of a young fly.
"It rescued the sleep patterns in the older flies," she explains.
These results, Naidoo says, suggest three key messages. First, sleep loss leads to protein misfolding and cellular stress, and as we age, our ability to recover from that stress decreases. Second, aging and sleep apparently form a kind of negative "chicken-and-egg" feedback loop, in which sleep loss or sleep fragmentation lead to cellular stress, followed by neuronal dysfunction, and finally even poorer-quality sleep.
Sleep recharges neuronal batteries, Naidoo explains, and if a person is forced to stay awake, those batteries run down. Dwindling physiological resources must be devoted to the most critical cell functions, which do not necessarily include protein homeostasis. "Staying awake has a cost, and one of
|Contact: Karen Kreeger|
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine