MONTREAL, Oct. 2, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - A team of scientists led by Dr.
Antoine Adamantidis, a researcher at the Douglas Mental Health
University Institute and an assistant professor at McGill University,
has released the findings from their latest study, which will appear in
the October issue of the prestigious scientific journal Nature Neuroscience.(1)
Previous studies had established an association between the activity of
certain types of neurons and the phase of sleep known as REM (rapid eye
movement). Researchers on the team of Dr. Antoine Adamantidis
identified, for the first time, a precise causal link between neuronal
activity in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) and the state of REM sleep.
Using optogenetics, they were able to induce REM sleep in mice and
modulate the duration of this sleep phase by activating the neuronal
network in this area of the brain.
This achievement is an important contribution to the understanding of
sleep mechanisms in the brains of mammals, as well as the underlying
neuronal network, which is still not well understood despite recent
breakthroughs in neuroscience.
Better understanding how sleep is modulated to reduce sleep disorders
"These research findings could help us better grasp how the brain
controls sleep and better understand the role of sleep in humans. These
results could also lead to new therapeutic strategies to treat sleep
disorders along with associated neuropsychiatric problems," stated Dr.
Antoine Adamantidis, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Neural
Circuits and Optogenetics.
What is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep?
There are two types of sleep: REM and non-REM sleep. In humans, non-REM
sleep has four stages. REM sleep, or deep sleep, is generally
associated with dreaming and is a phase when the brain is very active,
even though people are in a heavy sleep, their eyes move rapidly (hence
the name), and their bodies have an almost total loss of muscle tonus
Although our understanding of the mechanisms that control the wake and
sleep cycle has progressed in recent years, many frontiers remain
unexplored. However, we do know that a disruption in sleep can lead to
adverse effects on physical and mental health in humans.
Optogenetics, a revolutionary technology
In 2010 in the journal Nature, optogenetics was recognized as one of the coming decade's most
promising techniques to better understand brain function. This new
field of research and application integrates optics and genetics
methodologies to modulate the activity of neural circuits. Optogenetics
involves controlling neuronal activity with light. This technique is
therefore used to manipulate a specific type of cell without affecting
neighbouring cells. A researcher who uses optogenetics is therefore
like a conductor who decides to change the sheet music for an
instrument to observe the effects, however insignificant they may seem,
on the orchestra's entire performance.
The study authors would like to thank the agencies that financially
supported this cutting-edge research:
Human Frontier Science Program
Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
Canadian Research Chair Program (Tier 2 Chair)
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQS)
Douglas Institute Foundation
(1) Optogenetic identification of a rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep
modulatory circuit in the hypothalamus. Sonia Jego, Stephen D. Glasgow,
Carolina Gutierrez Herrera, Mats Ekstrand2, Sean J. Reed, Richard
Boyce, Jeffrey Friedman, Denis Burdakov & Antoine R. Adamantidis.
(2)Le Sommeil et vous, Mieux dormir, mieux vivre. Diane B. Boivin, MD, PhD, Éditions du Trécarré, 2012, 192 p. Diane
Boivin is a clinician and researcher and the Director of the Centre for
Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms at the Douglas Institute.
Image with caption: "Antoine Adamantidis, PhD, Research scientist, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Canada Research Chair in Neural Circuits and Optogenetics. (CNW Group/Douglas Mental Health University Institute)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131002_C6606_PHOTO_EN_31614.jpg
SOURCE: Douglas Mental Health University Institute
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