It’s often said that having a sound sleep helps in rejuvenating the body. And now, a new research has put more emphasis on this subject. A team of researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge have discovered that sleep allows immune cells to do maintenance work on the brain.
These cells are active when a person is sleeping and attend to the regular wear and tear of the brain. The new research done on mouse models suggests that specialised immune cells keep the brain in good working order. According to Medical News Today, lead author Professor Ania Majewska said, “It has largely been assumed that the dynamic movement of microglial processes is not sensitive to the behavioural state of the animal. This research shows that the signals in our brain, that modulate the sleep and awake state, also act as a switch that turns the immune system off and on”.
“This work suggests that the enhanced remodelling of neural circuits and repair of lesions during sleep may be mediated in part by the ability of microglia to dynamically interact with the brain. Altogether, this research also shows that microglia are exquisitely sensitive to signals that modulate brain function and that microglial dynamics and functions are modulated by the behavioural state of the animal,” explains first author Rianne Stowell, Ph.D.
The findings add to the evidence that mechanisms related to sleep play an essential role in ensuring that the brain receives necessary repairs and continues to function correctly.
This meant that during states of arousal and wakefulness, the immune cells could not respond appropriately and perform maintenance on brain cell connections. “These results indicate that microglial roles in surveillance and synaptic plasticity in the mouse brain are modulated by noradrenergic tone fluctuations between arousal states and emphasize the need to understand the effect of disruptions of adrenergic signalling in neurodevelopment and neuropathology”, said the study.