Sleep Disorders Might Impact Metabolic Conditions Like Diabetes

An increased appetite and insulin insensitivity are often the result of sleep loss, and sleep-deprived people are at a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.

Researchers believe they have identified translin - a DNA-binding protein - as a regulator of sleep in response to metabolic changes. Translin promotes harmony between the sleep and metabolic states, but acute sleep loss can lead to increased appetite and insulin problems. If sleep issues worsen, researchers claim an increased vulnerability to metabolic disorders can occur.

"In humans, sleep and feeding are tightly interconnected, and pathological disturbances of either process are associated with metabolism-related disorders," said Alex C. Keene, Ph.D., corresponding author of the study. "Despite the widespread evidence for interactions between sleep loss and metabolic dysfunction, little is known about the molecular basis of this interaction and how these processes integrate within the brain."

Fruit flies and diabetes

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University looked at the sleeping and eating habits of fruit flies. According to the study, fruit flies will forgo sleep to seek out food. By presenting the tiny flies with two scenarios - either sleeping or searching for food - scientists were able to identify translin as a key component to integrating sleep and metabolic state.

The study claims that translin is needed to stimulate wakefulness in people during the absence of food. By better understanding this gene, sleep deprivation - and the metabolic conditions that come with it - could be minimized.

"The identification of genes regulating sleep-feeding interactions will provide important insight into how the brain integrates and controls the expression of complex behaviors," said Keene.

Source: Florida Atlantic University

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