Research Associate Basma Radwan. Photo credit: NYU Abu Dhabi

New research from the NYU Abu Dhabi Laboratory of Neural Systems and Behavior used an animal model for the first time to demonstrate how abnormal sleep architecture can be a predictor of susceptibility to stress. These important findings can influence the development of sleep tests that can help determine who is susceptible or resilient to future stress.

In the study Abnormal Sleep Signals Vulnerability to Chronic Social Defeat Stress, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, NYUAD Assistant Professor of Biology Dipesh Chaudhury and Research Associate Basma Radwan describe their development of a mouse model to determine how disorders affect non- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREM) leads to an increased susceptibility to future stress.

The researchers assessed the sleep characteristics of both stress-prone and stress-resistant mice before and after chronic social defeat (CSD). The social behavior of the mice after stress was classified into two main phenotypes: those that are prone to stress and showed social avoidance, and those that were stress resistant. Pre-CSD, mice prone to stress showed increased fragmentation of NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep due to an increased switch between NREM and wake and a shorter average duration of NREM seizures compared to stress-resistant mice. Their analysis showed that the pre-CSD sleep characteristics of both phenotypes of mice allowed prediction of susceptibility to stress with an accuracy of more than 80 percent. Susceptible mice after CSD retained high NREM fragmentation during the light and dark phases, while elastic mice showed high NREM fragmentation only in the dark.

The results show that mice that become susceptible to CSD stress already show abnormal sleep / wake characteristics prior to stress exposure. In addition, subsequent exposure will further impair sleep and the homeostatic response.

“Our study is the first to provide an animal model to investigate the relationship between poor sleep continuity and susceptibility to chronic stress and depressive disorders,” said Chaudhury and Radwan. “This marker of susceptibility to stress opens up opportunities for many possible future studies that could further explain the underlying molecular processes and neural circuitry that lead to mood disorders.”

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More information:
Frontiers of Neuroscience (2021). DOI: 10.3389 / fnins.2020.610655 Provided by New York University

Quote: Study shows fragmented sleep patterns can predict susceptibility to chronic stress (2021, January 12), accessed on January 12, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-fragmented-patterns-vulnerability-chronic -stress.html

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