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Sleep Deprivation Inhibits Neurogenesis in Animal Study

Corticosterone increases after sleep deprivation, which reduces neuron proliferation in rat hippocampus

FRIDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A rise in corticosterone levels caused by sleep deprivation prevents formation of new neurons in the rat hippocampus, according to a report published online Nov. 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Elizabeth Gould, Ph.D., and colleagues from Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., examined the role of the stress hormone corticosterone in proliferation of neurons in adult rat hippocampus, a region involved in memory formation and cognitive function.

Corticosterone levels rose in rats exposed to prolonged sleep deprivation and correlated with a decrease in proliferation and neurogenesis. Proliferation normalized in rats given corticosterone supplements during the test. A recovery period, marked by a temporary increase in neurogenesis, seemed to be independent of corticosterone and sleep pattern.

"Although sleep is undoubtedly critical for health and may be important for cognitive function, the present evidence does not suggest that sleep itself promotes adult neurogenesis, but rather that the stressful nature of sleep deprivation exerts negative effects on the hippocampus," Gould and colleagues conclude.

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