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Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Nov 15;51(10):1842-8. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.08.016. Epub 2011 Aug 25.

Sleep deprivation under sustained hypoxia protects against oxidative stress.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


We previously showed that total sleep deprivation increased antioxidant responses in several rat brain regions. We also reported that chronic hypoxia enhanced antioxidant responses and increased oxidative stress in rat cerebellum and pons, relative to normoxic conditions. In the current study, we examined the interaction between these two parameters (sleep and hypoxia). We exposed rats to total sleep deprivation under sustained hypoxia (SDSH) and compared changes in antioxidant responses and oxidative stress markers in the neocortex, hippocampus, brainstem, and cerebellum to those in control animals left undisturbed under either sustained hypoxia (UCSH) or normoxia (UCN). We measured changes in total nitrite levels as an indicator of nitric oxide (NO) production, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and total glutathione (GSHt) levels as markers of antioxidant responses, and levels of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) and protein carbonyls as signs of lipid and protein oxidation products, respectively. We found that acute (6h) SDSH increased NO production in the hippocampus and increased GSHt levels in the neocortex, brainstem, and cerebellum while decreasing hippocampal lipid oxidation. Additionally, we observed increased hexokinase activity in the neocortex of SDSH rats compared to UCSH rats, suggesting that elevated glucose metabolism may be one potential source of the enhanced free radicals produced in this brain region. We conclude that short-term insomnia under hypoxia may serve as an adaptive response to prevent oxidative stress.

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