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Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jan;33(1):195.e13-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.05.010. Epub 2010 Jul 9.

Age-related changes in sleep in inbred mice are genotype dependent.

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Center for Integrative Genomics, University of Lausanne, Genopode Building, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Aging produces major changes in sleep structure and intensity which might be linked to cognitive impairment in the elderly. In this study, the genetic contribution to age-related changes in sleep was assessed in three inbred mouse strains of various ages. Baseline sleep and the response to 6 hours sleep deprivation (SD) achieved by gentle handling were quantified in young, middle-aged, and older male mice using electroencephalography. Total sleep time initially increased with age but then decreased in the oldest group mainly due to changes in sleep duration during the active phase. The effect of age on electroencephalographic (EEG) delta power depends on genotype and sleep pressure level with SD increasing the age-related differences. The strong effect of age upon the spectral profile of the different behavioral states was modulated by genetic background. Overall, our results suggest that sleep pressure can modulate the effect of age, that most sleep variables do not monotonically change with age in contrast to previous reports in humans and other species, and that genetic factors have a major impact on the aging processes affecting sleep.

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