Dietary amino acids can relieve sleep problems after traumatic brain injury

ANI| Updated: Dec 12, 2013, 18:01 PM IST

Washington: Researchers have found that dietary amino acids can help fix sleep disturbances in mice with traumatic brain injuries, a discovery that could lead to treatments for hundreds of thousands of people who have long-term and debilitating sleep and wakefulness issues after they suffer concussions.

Miranda Lim, form Oregon Health and Science University said that if further research confirms what this study suggested, they could develop a dietary supplement of these amino acids that could be a viable therapy to help people after a concussion.

Sleep problems impair attention and memory formation in TBI patients, who have a higher rate of functional disability and a higher cost of rehabilitation.

In the study, the scientists compared mice with mild TBI to uninjured mice. They found that injured mice were much less able to stay awake for sustained periods of time.

The scientists also found that the orexin neurons in the brains of injured mice were much less active than the same neurons in uninjured mice. Orexin neurons help to maintain wakefulness, in mice and in humans.

Based on prior research, the scientists gave the injured mice a dietary therapy of branched chain amino acids - which humans get most often through foods high in protein, including red meat, poultry and eggs.

"These results in an animal model provide a proof-of-principle for investigating this dietary intervention as a treatment for TBI patients," said Cohen. "If a dietary supplement can improve sleeping and waking patterns as well as cognitive problems, it could help brain-injured patients regain crucial functions."

The study was published in journal Science Translational Medicine.