06/05/06

British researchers have discovered how glucose affects the wakefulness of mice after eating, according to an article in the HealthDay Reporter. The author writes, “The researchers determined how glucose blocks neurons—brain cells—that regulate wakefulness. They found that a class of potassium ion channels made up of proteins in the cell membrane affects the cells’ responses by controlling the amount of potassium getting into the cells. Then they wanted to find out how glucose inhibits a particular class of glucose-sensing neurons that produce tiny proteins called orexins, which regulate states of consciousness.”

“It seems that the activity of orexin neurons, which regulate appetite and reward feelings, as well as wakefulness, can be controlled by normal, daily changes in brain glucose levels,” lead researcher Denis Burdakov, a research fellow at the University of Manchester, told the HealthDay Reporter. This may explain the reason for tiredness after eating and why sleeping is difficult when experiencing hunger, he said. The findings of the study were published in the June 1 issue of the journal Neuron.