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Study: Sleep flushes out brain’s toxic proteins

They say this cleaning system (glymphatic system) has a big role in the fixing of memories in the brain and learning.

Source : Presstv / 22 Oct 2013

New research conducted by American researchers indicates that sleep acts like "waste removal system’ in clearing away some toxic proteins in brain.

Researchers suggest that sleep activates brain's own network of plumbing pipes during which waste material is carried out of the brain, according to the study appeared in the journal Science.

They say this cleaning system (glymphatic system) has a big role in the fixing of memories in the brain and learning.

The sleep researchers believe that brain’s failing to clean toxins play significant role in its abnormalities.

"The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must choose between two different functional states - awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up," said study researcher Dr Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester.

Brain analysis of mice revealed that the glymphatic system became 10-times more active when the animals were asleep.

The image of brains demonstrates that cells in the brain, typically the glial cells which keep nerve cells alive, shrink during sleep.

The shrinking increases the size of the gaps between brain tissues and consequently allows more fluid to be pumped in and wash the toxins away.

"There is good data on memory and learning, the psychological reason for sleep. But this finding is the actual physical and chemical reason for sleep, something is happening which is important," said the independent sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley.

Meanwhile, many of Alzheimer’s researchers are very keen to know whether damage to the brain's waste clearance system could lead to diseases like dementia.

Some experts believe that the recent findings can be considered a new approach to Alzheimer's prevention particularly how sleep affects levels of beta amyloid.

Beta amyloid concentrations continue to increase while a person is awake, and then after people go to sleep that concentration of beta amyloid decreases. This report provides a beautiful mechanism by which this may be happening," explained Alzheimer's researcher Randall Bateman, professor of neurology Washington University.


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