Every year in the U.S., an estimated 2 million people suffer a TBI, accounting for a major cause of disability across all age groups. Although 75 percent of reported TBI cases are milder forms such as concussion, even concussion may cause chronic neurological impairments, including cognitive, motor and sleep problems.
The study was co-led by CHOP neuroscientist Akiva S. Cohen, PhD, a research associate professor of Pediatrics in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, and two experts in sleep medicine: co-senior author Allan I. Pack, MBChB, PhD, professor of Medicine and director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; and first author Miranda M. Lim, MD, PhD, formerly at the Penn Sleep Center, and now on faculty at the Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Science University.
The team investigated the use of selected branched chain amino acids (BCAA)—precursors of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA, which are involved in communication among neurons and help to maintain a normal balance in brain activity. Dr. Cohen’s research previously showed that a BCAA diet restored cognitive ability in brain-injured mice. The current study was the first to analyze sleep-wake patterns in an animal model.
The National Institutes of Health (grants HL0077113, HL111725-01A1, NS069629 and HD059288) supported this study, as well as the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine/Measey Research Fellowship. Cohen and CHOP hold a provisional U.S. patent for the use of BCAA as a therapy for traumatic brain injury.
For more information, please see CHOP’s news release.
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