Mania is a medical condition in which patients experience restlessness and sleeplessness. Researchers have now identified that absence of a brain chemical can lead to this hyperactivity and sleeplessness. Mice studies have revealed that animals without the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) chemical developed characteristics similar to a mania. These findings could help researchers to develop new drugs that promote better sleep, or control hyperactivity in people with the medical condition mania.
One of the lead researchers Bill Wisden, professor at Imperial College London, said, "Sleep is essential for health. We have to do it every day. But nobody yet knows why." For the study, researchers analyzed chemicals, histamine and GABA, that are produced in a primitive part of the brain that is highly similar in mice and humans.
The research team found that GABA and histamine are made in the same brain cells, called histamine neurons. When they altered the levels of the GABA produced by the mice's brains and measured what changes this had on their brain activity over the day and night; they found that compared with normal mice, those without GABA ran twice as far and twice as fast, and maintained or even increased their overall activity over a 30 minute period.
Nick Franks, professor at Imperial College London, said, "What particularly surprised us was how little the mice were affected by sleep deprivation."
The findings were published in the Neuron.