Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Age-related decline in sleep quality might be reversible


Sleep is essential for human health. But with increasing age, many people experience a decline in sleep quality, which in turn reduces their quality of life. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biology of Ageing in Cologne have investigated the mechanisms by which ageing impairs sleep in the fruit fly. Their findings suggest that age-related sleep decline can be prevented and might even be reversible.

To uncover basic age-related sleep mechanisms, the Max Planck scientists studied the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a classical model organism in ageing research. „Drosophila’s sleep has many features in common with that of humans, including the decline in quality“, says Luke Tain of the MPI for Biology of Ageing.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has a life expectancy of about eight weeks and is one of the model organisms scientists at the MPI for Biology of Ageing use to uncover what happ

Wolfgang Weiss for the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing

„Like humans, flies sleep at night and are active during the day. We can observe when and how long flies sleep. We can also determine their sleep quality by measuring how often they wake. This allows us to study the effects of specific substances or other sleep-influencing factors such as age and genetic disposition.“

Ageing researchers Athanasios Metaxakis, Luke Tain, and Sebastian Grönke, in the department of MPI Director Linda Partridge, discovered that a reduced activity in the IIS signalling pathway leads to improved sleep quality at night and higher activity levels at day. A “signalling pathway” is a biological method of transferring information, and via those pathways, the cell can respond to external conditions like the state of food supply.

„In our study, we described the role of the IIS pathway in regulating sleep and activity through the neurotransmitters octopamine and dopamine“, explains Tain. „What makes this pathway so interesting to us is the fact that it is evolutionarily conserved. This means that its components and functions are similar in diverse species from simple organisms like fruit flies to mice and even humans. Furthermore, we were able to improve sleep quality by administering therapeutic agents.”

Moreover, the scientists found out that day activity and night sleep are regulated by two distinct signalling pathways, night sleep being mediated through TOR and dopaminergic signalling. Surprisingly, if TOR’s activity is acutely inhibited by treatment with the therapeutic agent Rapamycin, sleep quality improves even in old flies, suggesting that age-related sleep decline is not only preventable, but also reversible.

The scientists will follow up on their findings. Luke Tain: „Given the high evolutionarily conservation of IIS and TOR function, our results implicate potential therapeutic targets to improve sleep quality in humans. This would be our longer-term goal. The next step however, is to find out whether these mechanisms also work in higher animals like mice.“

Original publication:
Lowered Insulin Signalling Ameliorates Age-Related Sleep Fragmentation in Drosophila. Athanasios Metaxakis, Luke S. Tain, Sebastian Grönke, Oliver Hendrich, Yvonne Hinze, Ulrike Birras, and Linda Partridge. PLOS Biology, April 1, 2014.

Weitere Informationen:

Sabine Dzuck | Max-Planck-Institut

Further reports about: Drosophila IIS MPI Max-Planck-Institut Partridge TOR activity age-related decline flies humans pathway signalling sleep

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>