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Lack of Melatonin Linked to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Posted Jun 13 2013 10:08pm

New research suggests that the sleep hormone melatonin may prove useful in the treatment of the fatal neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Robert Friedlander, M.D., Professor of neurosurgery and neurobiology at Pitt School of Medicine, and colleagues treated a mouse model of ALS-with injections of melatonin or with a placebo. Results showed that compared to untreated mice, mice treated with melatonin developed symptoms later, survived longer, and had less degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord. The study is the first to demonstrate that a lack of melatonin and/or its receptor, melatonin receptor 1 (MT1), is associated with the progression of ALS. The authors concluded that their findings show that melatonin is neuroprotective and that melatonin and modulation of  MT1 pathways “may be promising therapeutic approaches for ALS”.

Yi Zhang, Anna Cook, Jinho Kim, Sergei V. Baranov, Jiying Jiang, Karen Smith, Kerry Cormier, Erik Bennett, Robert P. Browser, Arthur L Day, Diane L Carlisle, Robert J Ferrante, Xin Wang, Robert M Friedlander. Melatonin inhibits the caspase-1/cytochrome c/caspase-3 cell death pathway, inhibits MT1 receptor loss and delays disease progression in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neurobiol Dis. 2013;55C:26-35.

  
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Tip #175 - Circumvent A Cold
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (Pennsylvania, USA) studied 153 healthy men and women, ages 21 to 55 years, who reported daily on their sleep duration and quality for two weeks. Participants were then quarantined in separate rooms for 5 days and exposed to rhinovirus (the virus that is responsible for the common cold). As a result, 35.3% of subjects developed a clinical cold and 43.1% self-reported the presence of cold symptoms. The researchers found that those study subjects with shorter duration of sleep and poorer sleep efficiency were at significantly increased risk of developing a cold.

The restorative role of sleep is often underestimated. In that too little sleep has been found to compromise many of the body’s biological processes, including immune function, be sure to achieve sleep of a sufficient duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening and leaves you feeling refreshed and alert for the day.

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