A solution to sleep disorders?

A study undertaken by Dr. J. Adrien, published in April 2008 in the Journal of Neuroscience, highlights the crucial role of the first years of the life on the balance of the sleep for a whole life. It also shows that it is possible to interact on sleep through a treatment which modifies the serotonin neurotransmission, from the first days of life.

It all happens very quickly

In mice, the first weeks are essential in the regulation of sleep. It is during this period, that the impact of serotonin begins and is consolidated in sleep balance and emotional behaviours. Once this system is set up, it is difficult to act on its balance in a permanent way.

We known that an imbalance of this system involves sleep disorders.

Mice under antidepressants

For a better understanding of these mechanisms, the researchers decided to weaken the serotoninergic system by giving antidepressants to baby mice and to note the results. For this purpose, they used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), a neurotransmitter present in the brain.

In depressive people, the effectiveness of this treatment protects the brain from the lack of serotonin by artificially increasing its rate in the synapsis.

Antidepressants taken at an early age disturb sleep for an entire life

In the mouse, giving antidepressant treatment to baby mice during fifteen days after birth, caused sleep disorders later in life which persisted all their life: broken sleep, unbalanced and less restorative which resembles the sleep disorders observed in certain types of depressions.

Note: these harmful effects are not observed any more when these experiments are undertaken after puberty.

New treatments?

The results of such studies may help future treatments and find new ways in the prevention and treatment of sleep disorders in the event of genetic damage of the serotoninergic system.

Long-term consequences of antidepressant treatment in the child and during pregnancy.

In 2009, this same team of researchers started a new study looking specifically at this and aim to evaluate the use of antidepressants taken during pregnancy and the consequences later on in the child.


These works are published in the April issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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