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Dynamic metabolic changes in the human thalamus at the transition from waking to sleep - insights from simultaneous functional MR spectroscopy and polysomnography


Lehmann, Mick; Hock, Andreas; Zoelch, Nicklaus; Landolt, Hans-Peter; Seifritz, Erich (2019). Dynamic metabolic changes in the human thalamus at the transition from waking to sleep - insights from simultaneous functional MR spectroscopy and polysomnography. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13(1158):1158.

Abstract

An important contribution of the thalamus to the transition from wakefulness to sleep is a consistent finding in animal studies. In humans, only little is currently known about the specific role of the thalamus in regulating wake-sleep transitions. Although changes in thalamic blood flow and activity have been reported, the underlying molecular mechanisms have not been investigated. Knowledge about neurotransmitter changes at the wake-to-sleep transition would be indispensable for a better translation of basic animal research findings to humans. Here, we start to fill this important scientific gap. More specifically, we benefit from recent advances in magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy, which allow for the non-invasive, local-specific and high-quality detection of naturally occurring metabolite changes in the human brain. We demonstrate in 9 young adults able to produce consolidated sleep in the MR spectroscopy scanner, a specific decrease in thalamic glutamate concentration from wakefulness to stage N2 sleep. The magnitude of this decrease was highly correlated with individual N2 sleep duration. When 5 participants of the original experiment were kept awake in a separate control condition, no decrease in thalamic glutamate levels occurred. The study highlights for the first time in humans that dynamic changes in distinct brain metabolites can be reliably detected at the transition from waking to sleep. The reported methodology to simultaneously acquire functional MR spectroscopy data and neurophysiological signals offers great potential for investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the transition between and the maintenance of sleep and wake states in humans.

Abstract

An important contribution of the thalamus to the transition from wakefulness to sleep is a consistent finding in animal studies. In humans, only little is currently known about the specific role of the thalamus in regulating wake-sleep transitions. Although changes in thalamic blood flow and activity have been reported, the underlying molecular mechanisms have not been investigated. Knowledge about neurotransmitter changes at the wake-to-sleep transition would be indispensable for a better translation of basic animal research findings to humans. Here, we start to fill this important scientific gap. More specifically, we benefit from recent advances in magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy, which allow for the non-invasive, local-specific and high-quality detection of naturally occurring metabolite changes in the human brain. We demonstrate in 9 young adults able to produce consolidated sleep in the MR spectroscopy scanner, a specific decrease in thalamic glutamate concentration from wakefulness to stage N2 sleep. The magnitude of this decrease was highly correlated with individual N2 sleep duration. When 5 participants of the original experiment were kept awake in a separate control condition, no decrease in thalamic glutamate levels occurred. The study highlights for the first time in humans that dynamic changes in distinct brain metabolites can be reliably detected at the transition from waking to sleep. The reported methodology to simultaneously acquire functional MR spectroscopy data and neurophysiological signals offers great potential for investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the transition between and the maintenance of sleep and wake states in humans.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:30 October 2019
Deposited On:13 Jan 2020 11:29
Last Modified:18 Jan 2020 08:29
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1662-453X
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.01158

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