Tue, Mar 28, 2017 | updated 03:47 AM IST

Study reveals how clock regulates physiological function of brain

Updated: Oct 07, 2016 12:15 IST

Washington D.C [USA], Oct. 7 (ANI): According to a recent study, the human brain's biological clock stimulates thirst in the hours before sleep.

The finding, along with providing an insight into how the clock regulates a physiological function, also led to the discovery of molecular process behind it.

Though the research was conducted in mice, "the findings could point the way toward drugs that target receptors implicated in problems that people experience from shift work or jet lag," said the study's senior

author, Charles Bourque.

Scientists knew that rodents show a surge in water intake during the last two hours before sleep.

The study revealed that this behavior is not motivated by any physiological reason, such as dehydration.

So question arises, if they don't need to drink water, why do they?

The team found that restricting the access of mice to water during the surge period resulted in significant dehydration towards the end of the sleep cycle.

So the increase in water intake before sleep is a preemptive strike that guards against dehydration and serves to keep the animal healthy and properly hydrated.

Then the researchers looked for the mechanism that sets this thirst response in motion.

It's well established that the brain harbors a hydration sensor with thirst neurons in that sensor organ.

So they wondered if the SCN, the brain region that regulates circadian cycles aka the biological clock, could be communicating with the thirst neurons.

The team suspected that vasopressin, a neuropeptide produced by the SCN, might play a critical role.

To confirm that, they used 'sniffer cells' designed to fluoresce in the presence of vasopressin.

When they applied these cells to rodent brain tissue and then electrically stimulated the SCN, "We saw a big increase in the output of the sniffer cells, indicating that vasopressin is being released in that area as a result of stimulating the clock," Bourque said.

To explore if vasopressin was stimulating thirst neurons, the researchers employed optogenetics, a cutting-edge technique that uses laser light to turn neurons on or off.

Using genetically engineered mice whose vasopressin neurons contain a light activated molecule, they were able to show that vasopressin turn on thirst neurons.

"Although this study was performed in rodents, it points toward an explanation as to why we often experience thirst and ingest liquids such as water or milk before bedtime," Bourque said.

Adding, "More importantly, this advance in our understanding of how the clock executes a circadian rhythm has applications in situations such as jet lag and shift work. All our organs follow a circadian rhythm, which helps optimize how they function. Shift work forces people out of their natural rhythms, which can have repercussions on health. Knowing how the clock works gives us more potential to actually do something about it."

The study was published in the journal Nature. (ANI)

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): Attention dog lovers! With just six months of training, a German Shepherd can accurately detect breast cancer, a study finds.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): A recent study has found that a sleepless night impairs your ability to interpret subtle expressions of happiness and sadness.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): When it comes to new moms' workout programs, less is more and so, according to a Kansas State University researcher, new moms may need a bit more flexibility and support to ease back into exercise after giving birth.

Full Story >>

New approach to diagnosing mental disorders

Updated: Mar 26, 2017 10:48 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): A consortium of psychiatrists and psychologists has proposed a new approach to diagnosing mental disorders.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): Boosting natural brain opioids may be a better way to treat anxiety, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

Fecal transplant offers hope for autistic kids

Updated: Mar 26, 2017 09:37 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 26 (ANI): In this new era of medical therapy dawning, fecal transplants are poised to help fight a range of conditions, from deadly superbugs to obesity and now, autism is in the firing line.

Full Story >>

Thiruvallur (Chennai) [India], Mar. 25 (ANI): A highly contagious viral disease of cattle and swine, Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) has affected Karani village on the outskirts of Tamil Nadu's Tiruvallur district.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 25 (ANI): The findings of the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 confirm what we all knew from clinical evidence - that hypertension has become a major health concern among the Indian population, with as many as 22% Indians hypertensive.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): A prescription weight-loss medication can decrease the urge to use opiates such as oxycodone, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): A team of researchers has discovered a new gene that is associated with Tau accumulation, which is one of the defining features of Alzheimer disease (AD).

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): All it takes is the flip of a protein "switch" within the tiny wire-like capillaries of the brain to increase the blood flow that ensures optimal brain function.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): Scientists have found that stem cell therapy repairs damaged lungs - raising hopes of a cure for the crippling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis.

Full Story >>

New method can cut dental implant failure

Updated: Mar 25, 2017 09:34 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): A team of researchers has come up with a new method to reduce dental implant failure.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): A team of researchers has come up with a fluorogenic probe that can detect the activity of multidrug-resistant pathogens in an assay system.

Full Story >>

Virus hydrophobicity can help purify vaccines

Updated: Mar 25, 2017 07:46 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): A team of researchers has found that hydrophobic proteins on virus surfaces can help purify vaccines.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 25 (ANI): A team of researchers has shed light on why survivors of childhood brain tumours may be prone to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and early death.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 24 (ANI): Continuing its efforts to raise awareness on tuberculosis and its diagnosis, Division of Clinical Microbiology & Molecular Medicine Department of Laboratory Medicine, AIIMS, and BD (Becton Dickinson India) for the third consecutive year organized a symposium today on "challenges in diagnosis and eradication of tuberculosis".

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 24 (ANI): On the solemn occasion of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, Members of Parliament, policymakers, TB patients, survivors, and citizens of the civil society gathered at India Gate on Thursday, March 23 to pay tribute to the nearly five lakh lives lost due to this disease last year.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 24 (ANI): Emergence of multi drug resistant TB and complications aggravated by high rates of co-infection with HIV-AIDS has renewed the threat of TB epidemic in India. With widespread prevalence of the infection, children experience a serious risk of contracting Tuberculosis, especially if they are under-nourished.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 24 (ANI): Tuberculosis can affect any age, caste or class and it is one of the top 10 causes of death across the globe, ranking above HIV and malaria.

Full Story >>