New findings from a research study in America have found that memory loss from lack of sleep may be reversible, in a discovery that could herald new treatments of the sleep disorder insomnia. The study, published in the science journal Nature, is believed to be the first of its kind to reveal such an occurrence.
The research at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, led by Professor Ted Abel and his team, looked at sleep deprivation in mice and discovered that it affected the hippocampus - a key molecular pathway that plays a role in memory formation and learning. In the mice that suffered sleep deprivation, the team found increased levels of PDE4 enzyme and reduced levels of the molecule cAMP. These reactions were found to be reversible with PDE4 inhibitors, which also helped rescue synaptic connections and worked against memory loss caused by sleep deprivation.
“These findings demonstrate that brief sleep deprivation disrupts hippocampal function by interfering with cAMP signaling through increased PDE4 activity,” said Professor Abel. “Thus, drugs that enhance cAMP signaling may provide a new therapeutic approach to counteract the cognitive effects of sleep deprivation.”