A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences has found that sleep deprivation can cause a significant increase in serotonin 2A levels in a matter of hours in animal models.Serotonin 2A, or the 5-HT2A receptor, plays a crucial role in cognition, perception and psychosis. The receptor is extensively distributed in the brain and is responsible for the psychedelic effect of substances such as LSD and psilocybin.
Abnormal function of 5-HT2A receptors has been linked to psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, which explains why antipsychotic medications prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia have been designed to target serotonin 2A receptors and help reduce symptoms of impaired cognition.
The study’s findings suggest that environmental stimuli could modify the balance in brain receptors that are controlled by antipsychotic medications for people with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that is characterized by abnormalities in memory, thinking and perception. This disorder disrupts an individual’s memory and sleep processes as well as their cognition, causing them to experience disassociation from reality and hallucinations.
The study was led by Amelia Gallitano, who stated that the research had demonstrated that it was possible for environmental stressors to alter the levels of receptors, which played crucial roles in the brain, in several hours.Prior research has shown that receptor proteins on brain cell surfaces control the brain’s communication network. These receptors are made when a gene is turned on to produce mRNA that the cells use to create receptor proteins such as the 5-HT2A receptor.
The number of receptors created and the number present on the surface of brain cells help determine how brain cellsrespond to serotonin as well as how drugs such as antipsychotics bind to the receptor. The researchers found that the proteins produced by an early-growth response gene known as EGR3 were also required for 5-HT2A receptor expression. The primary function of EGR3 is to turn other genes on and off and bind to DNA.
The researchers discovered that stimuli caused by sleep deprivation set off EGR3 to bind to the 5-HT2A receptor gene, which caused it to relay mRNA instructionsto produce more proteins. This is what caused an increase in serotonin 2A levels present in the brain in a matter of hours.
The study’s findings improve the understanding of how the environment modifiesthe expression of brain receptors, which moderate function in the prefrontal cortex region. This region is essential for working memory and spatial reasoning. Dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex region could contribute to the cognitive deficits, which characterize schizophrenia.
The findings of this research help to broaden the scientific community’s understanding of how psychedelics work, and this in turn could open up new avenues for companies such as Mydecine Innovations Group Inc. (NEO: MYCO) (OTC: MYCOF) to come up with a new class of drugs targeting mental health disorders.
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