A recent study by researchers at the University of Tsukuba has found that aripiprazole, a drug commonly used to treat psychiatric disorders, may also be effective in treating circadian rhythm sleep disorders. These sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep-phase syndrome, result in people sleeping and waking up very late. However, it is still unclear how exactly aripiprazole works to address these sleep disorder symptoms.
The researchers discovered that aripiprazole can directly impact the central circadian clock in mammals, specifically by modulating the photic entrainment in mice. The central circadian clock, located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus, consists of clock neurons that synchronize with each other to maintain a 24-hour rhythm. It is also influenced by external inputs, such as light, which helps align it with the light-dark cycle of the environment. The researchers found that aripiprazole disrupts the synchronization among the clock neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, making them more responsive to light stimuli in mice. Additionally, aripiprazole affects intracellular signaling in the suprachiasmatic nucleus by targeting the serotonin 1A receptor.
These findings suggest that the effectiveness of aripiprazole in alleviating circadian rhythm sleep disorder symptoms in patients with psychiatric disorders may be due to its modulation of the circadian clock. This study expands the potential use of aripiprazole as a treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
The research was supported by various organizations, including the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the Naito Foundation.
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