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BACKGROUND - Many aging changes seem similar to those elicited by sleep-deprivation and psychosocial stress. Further, sleep architecture changes with age suggest an age-related loss of sleep. Here, we hypothesized that sleep deprivation in young subjects would elicit both stress and aging-like transcriptional responses.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS - F344 rats were divided into control and sleep deprivation groups. Body weight, adrenal weight, corticosterone level and hippocampal CA1 transcriptional profiles were measured. A second group of animals was exposed to novel environment stress (NES), and their hippocampal transcriptional profiles measured. A third cohort exposed to control or SD was used to validate transcriptional results with Western blots. Microarray results were statistically contrasted with prior transcriptional studies. Microarray results pointed to sleep pressure signaling and macromolecular synthesis disruptions in the hippocampal CA1 region. Animals exposed to NES recapitulated nearly one third of the SD transcriptional profile. However, the SD-aging relationship was more complex. Compared to aging, SD profiles influenced a significant subset of genes. mRNA associated with neurogenesis and energy pathways showed agreement between aging and SD, while immune, glial, and macromolecular synthesis pathways showed SD profiles that opposed those seen in aging.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE - We conclude that although NES and SD exert similar transcriptional changes, selective presynaptic release machinery and Homer1 expression changes are seen in SD. Among other changes, the marked decrease in Homer1 expression with age may represent an important divergence between young and aged brain response to SD. Based on this, it seems reasonable to conclude that therapeutic strategies designed to promote sleep in young subjects may have off-target effects in the aged. Finally, this work identifies presynaptic vesicular release and intercellular adhesion molecular signatures as novel therapeutic targets to counter effects of SD in young subjects.