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Sleep Restriction Impacts Gene Regulation

TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Insufficient sleep affects gene regulation, including genes associated with circadian rhythms, sleep homeostasis, oxidative stress, and metabolism, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Carla S. Möller-Levet, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Surrey in Guildford, U.K., exposed 26 individuals to one week of insufficient sleep (sleep-restriction condition, 5.70 hours sleep per 24 hours) and one week of sufficient sleep (control condition, 8.50 hours sleep per 24 hours) to explore the mechanism by which insufficient sleep is linked to negative health outcomes. Ten whole-blood RNA samples were collected from each participant immediately following each condition, while controlling for light, activity, and food, during the sleep-restriction condition.

The researchers found that 711 genes were up- or down-regulated by insufficient sleep, based on transcriptome analysis. There was a decrease in the number of genes with a circadian expression profile with insufficient sleep (from 1,855 to 1,481); the circadian amplitude of these genes was reduced; and there was an increase in the number of genes that responded to subsequent sleep deprivation (from 122 to 856). Insufficient sleep affected genes associated with circadian rhythms, sleep homeostasis, oxidative stress, and metabolism, and affected biological processes, including chromatin modification; gene-expression regulation; macromolecular metabolism; and inflammatory, immune, and stress responses.

"Insufficient sleep affects the human blood transcriptome, disrupts its circadian regulation, and intensifies the effects of acute total sleep deprivation," the authors write. "The identified biological processes may be involved with the negative effects of sleep loss on health, and highlight the interrelatedness of sleep homeostasis, circadian rhythmicity, and metabolism."

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