Cleaning the brain during sleep

Etxebeste Aduriz, Egoitz

Elhuyar Zientzia

Using dyes, researchers observe the brain flow of a sleeping mouse. Ed. Nedergaard Lab/University of Rochester Medical Center

To keep your head well, anyone would say it is important to sleep. A research published today in the journal Science explains what the causes may be. Researchers at Rochester University (USA) discover in the mouse that the brain is cleared during sleep.

The fluid that moves between the cells is the one that transports the garbage that accumulates in the brain to the general circulation system, for its subsequent transfer to the liver. The researchers suspected that this cleaning process could be a night work, since by spending quite a lot of energy, the brain would not be compatible with all other jobs that had to be done when awake. This has been confirmed in the study published today in Science. They have seen that the system is much more active when mice are asleep. In fact, when they are asleep only 5% of the trash they remove is removed when they are awake. In addition, they have observed that during sleep the brain cells decrease, which increases intercellular space by 60%. This makes the cleaning system more efficient.

Researchers have highlighted the importance of knowing how this cleaning system works, since several diseases are related to garbage that accumulates in the brain. Alzheimer's, for example, is related to the accumulation of ?-amyloids, a molecule that has been followed up in this study. It is observed that when mice are asleep they are expelled twice as fast.

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