Harnessing Brain Protein The Key to Anxiety, Sleep Disorders?

Researchers have found a newly discovered protein in the brain--neuropeptide S (NPS)--that enhances wakefulness and reduces anxiety in laboratory animals. This discovery could help scientists better understand sleep disorders, anxiety, depression and ADD. Another surprise: NPS is produced in a previously uncharacterized population of brain cells, perhaps indicating a new and distinct molecular pathway for regulating vigilance.

Studies in rats revealed NPS was produced in a few discrete brain regions, particularly in a distinct, previously uncharacterized cluster of cells in the brain region known to regulate arousal and anxiety. The receptor for NPS was widely expressed in many brain regions, including those known to be involved in anxiety. The widespread expression of the receptor suggested that NPS could play a role in a variety of brain functions, concluded the researchers.

When they administered NPS to mice, they found that it produced an increase in locomotor activity. In rats, NPS increased wakefulness and suppressed sleep.

Better understanding brain proteins is all good knowledge, until it leads to a new "bandaid" drug that is undoubtedly in the planning stages. If you're having trouble sleeping, I suggest you review my Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some useful tips. If anxiety or depression is keeping you awake late into the night, learn how to let go of stress with my free EFT Manual.

EurekaAlert August 18, 2004

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