Instead of a sleeping pill or a mood enhancer, a nose full of jasmine from Gardenia jasminoides could also help: in collaboration with Dr. Olga Sergeeva and Prof. Helmut Hass from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, researchers from Bochum led by Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Hanns Hatt have discovered that the two fragrances Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) have the same molecular mechanism of action and are as strong as the commonly prescribed barbiturates or propofol. They soothe, relieve anxiety and promote sleep. The researchers have now been granted a patent for their discovery. They report in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (online).
Every fifth German takes a sedative once a year
Sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants are the most frequently prescribed psychotropic drugs. The difference between calming and hypnotic effect depends solely on the dosage. The classes of substances that exert a calming effect include alcohol, barbiturates, opiates, and since the 1950s, the benzodiazepines, which are now among the world's most widely prescribed drugs. In the course of a year, about 20 percent of all Germans take such drugs or are treated with them for anaesthetic purposes. However, benzodiazepines are not only potentially addictive, but can also cause serious side effects, e.g. depression, dizziness, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.
Drugs enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA
Benzodiazepines, barbiturates and anaesthetics such as propofol act via specific adhesion sites on receptors that lie at contact points of nerve cells (synapses) in the brain and increase the effect of the inhibiting endogenous neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). In order to act like GABA itself, the medication would have to be highly dosed, but even lower doses are sufficient to increase the effect of endogenous GABA two to threefold.
Fragrances instead of tablets
The RUB researchers have now performed a large screening study in which they tested hundreds of fragrances to determine their effect on GABA receptors in humans and mice. The two fragrances vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) were the strongest: they were able to increase the GABA effect by more than five times and thus act as strongly as the known drugs. The "cross check" with genetically modified GABA receptors in transgenic mice which no longer responded to propofol confirmed that the mechanism of action is the same: the altered receptor also no longer responded to the fragrances.
Fragrances for sleep disorders and stress
Behavioural tests with mice in Prof. Lübbert’s laboratory in the Department of Animal Physiology at the RUB then eliminated the last doubts concerning the qualities of fragrance as a sedative. Injected or inhaled, the fragrances generated a calming effect: in a Plexiglas cage whose air contained a high concentration of the fragrance, the mice ceased all activity and sat quietly in the corner. Via the air breathed in, the scent molecules go from the lungs into the blood and then transmitted from there to the brain. Electrophysiological measurements of neurons in the brain areas responsible for the sleep-wake cycle showed that the GABA-effect on those nerve cells active in sleep was enhanced by the fragrances. “We have discovered a new class of GABA receptor modulator which can be administered parentally and through the respiratory air,” says Prof. Hatt. “Applications in sedation, anxiety, excitement and aggression relieving treatment and sleep induction therapy are all imaginable. The results can also be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy.” By changing the chemical structure of the scent molecules, the researchers hope to achieve even stronger effects.
Olga A. Sergeeva, Olaf Kletke, Andrea Kragler, Anja Poppek, Wiebke Fleischer, Stephan Roger Schubring, Boris Goerg, Helmut L. Haas, Xin-Ran Zhu, Hermann Luebbert, Guenter Gisselmann, and Hanns Hatt: Fragrant dioxane derivatives identify β1 subunit-containing GABA(A) receptors. J. Biol. Chem. jbc.M110.103309 First Published on May 28, 2010, doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.103309
More informationProf. Dr. Dr. Dr. Hanns Hatt, Department of Cell Physiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Tel. 0234/32-24586
Hanns.Hatt@rub.deDr. Guenter Gisselmann, Department of Cell Physiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Tel. 0234/32-24586
Editor: Meike Drießen
Dr. Josef König | idw
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine