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Protein regulates sleep, stress

Posted - Aug. 18, 2004 at 3:20 p.m.



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IRVINE, Calif., Aug 18, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- University of California researchers said a protein that regulates sleep and stress could be a good target for drugs that help people with sleep disorders.

Researchers from UC Irvine found neuropeptide S increases alertness, suppresses sleep and controls stress responses in rodents.

They found NPS is produced by previously unidentified neurons in a brain stem region known for regulating arousal and anxiety. It increases alertness and reduces slow-wave and rapid eye movement sleep in rats.

Researchers also detected NPS receptor proteins in stress-related brain regions and found mice injected with NPS showed fewer anxiety responses and more activity than untreated mice.

"Some 100,000 Americans are currently treated for excessive daytime sleepiness, but the number of the undiagnosed is far larger," wrote researcher Olivier Civelli. "Furthermore, symptoms of sleepiness, often recognized as fatigue, are associated with numerous other illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and also depression."

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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