Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Inhibitory Control gene explained

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Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Inhibitory Control Gene Explained

How is "Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Inhibitory Control" encoded by the genome?

All humans need sleep and suffer similar symptoms when they don’t get enough. But can a sleep deprivation genetic trait protect you from the negative cognitive effects of not getting enough shut-eye? It’s possible. 

Is it common for you to feel unregulated and out of control due to a lack of sleep? Cognitive processing and working memory are both a part of your inhibition control— one of the brain's executive functions. However, for most people, sleep deprivation not only causes sleepiness, it also impacts these cognitive functions.. 

Deficits in inhibitory control may be linked to genetics, but the relationship is not yet fully understood. However, the connection between sleep deprivation and genetics is better understood. 

‍How Do Genes Affect Sleep Deprivation?

Why can some people thrive on only a few hours of sleep each night while others can barely function if they don’t get their full eight hours? Genetics may play a role. A study by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, investigated the connection.

To learn more about DNA and sleep patterns, the researchers studied a family whose members all carried a mutated form of the ADRB1 gene. Every person in the family was a “short sleeper,” reporting that they functioned fully with far less than eight hours of sleep nightly. 

By mapping the ADRB1 gene, the researchers concluded this genetic variant encodes a receptor for adenosine, a compound that reacts with caffeine to create the effects of feeling awake and energized. 

This study offered the first direct evidence that ADRB1 works as a sleep deprivation genetic trait. People with the variation may be genetically predisposed to handle sleep deprivation better than others.  

Study of the Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Inhibitory Control

It has been reported that there are inter-individual differences in cognitive responses to sleep deprivation attributed to systemic inter-individual differences in sleep/wake homeostasis or determined by genetic polymorphisms. 

The influence of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on cognitive responses to sleep deprivation has been mainly observed on tasks involved in different levels of cognition.One way to study executive functioning is with tests like  the psychomotor vigilance test (PVT) and the executive Go/noGo inhibition task and also working memory, decision making, and flexibility. 

In this study, researchers explored the influence of 14 SNPs, including COMT gene rs4680, on the performance degradation of sustained attention using these two tests (PVT and Go/noGo task) during sleep deprivation (continuous wakefulness for 38 h) in 47 healthy subjects. 

The SNPs selection was based on the studies previously published. In the inhibition Go/noGo task, subjects were required to respond or not to a stimulus on a screen. After the appearance of a fixation cross in the center of the screen for 500 ms, an arrow appeared in the center of the screen for 1 s. 

Depending on the test instruction, subjects have 2 s to respond when the arrow is pointed out on the right (“Go” response) and not to respond when it is pointed on the left (“no-Go“ response). Performance was assessed by calculating the number of Go/nonGO commission errors (ratio). Results showed that rs4680 in the COMT gene creates profiles of high vulnerability or high resilience to sleep deprivation. 

The subjects with a GG genotype of rs4680 were more sensitive to sleep deprivation than subjects with other genotypes. It is well known that the Met (A allele) allele of rs4680 reduces the enzymatic activity of COMT three-to fourfold relative to the Val (ancestral G allele), leading to increased dopamine availability. 

The difference in dopamine availability between the genotypes is considered to be one of the reasons for the difference in neurophysiological consequences of sleep deprivation. 

There are some limitations in this work, similar to other studies. One consideration is research that looks at the involving co-factors that modulate the neurobehavioral vulnerability to sleep loss, which is sometimes more influential than the genetic impact, such as physical activity >2 h/week or coffee/energy drink consumption. 

In addition, future studies could try to recruit a larger population and more diversified profile population (age, gender, lifestyle habits).  If you would like to know more about this research, you can read the study here:

How to Find Your Sleep Deprivation Sensitivity Genes With Genomelink

Are you interested in learning more about your genetic tendency for the impact of sleep deprivation on inhibition control? Do you carry the sleep deprivation genetic trait? Find out with Genomelink. You can log in to your Genomelink TRAITS to see this new genetic trait.

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