Hormones tied to elderly sleep problems

April 12, 2011 by Deborah Braconnier, Medical Xpress report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Have you ever wondered why grandma and grandpa head to bed early but are up with the sun every morning? A new study by Lucia Pagani and Steven A. Brown of the University of Zurich recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may have the answers.

The human body’s circadian clock is controlled by the expression of circadian genes with the cells, and our sleep pattern is determined by the expression peaks in these genes. Within the elderly, the peak expression is usually earlier than that seen in the younger population.

Researchers collected skin cells from both young and elderly individuals in order to compare the internal circadian cycles. In the first experiment, both sets of skin cells were grown in a bovine serum. When observed, these skin cells showed no difference in the .

In the second experiment, researchers cultured the skin cells in human serum collected from older donors. When these cells were observed, the circadian rhythms were seen to all have shifted to that normally seen in the elderly.

The results of this research show that changes in levels found in the blood of the elderly may play a role in the changing of the circadian clocks.

Further research is needed, however, the possibility that hormones could be responsible for the sleep disturbances and changes seen in the elderly open the possibility for the creation of medications targeted at these changes.

Researchers do say that other factors could play a role in the earlier schedules of the elderly, such as less sunlight or time spent outdoors.

More information: Serum factors in older individuals change cellular clock properties, PNAS April 11, 2011. Published online before print April 11, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008882108

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

wealthychef
not rated yet Apr 12, 2011
What kind of supplements could an elderly person try? Would pregnenolone help?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.