February 25, 2021 by Adrienne Sylver
Roundup: Cleansing the Brain of Toxins; MMR Vaccine Study; and More Blood Pressure Meds Recalled
‘Deep Sleep’ Stage Helps Brain Flush Out Toxins, Researchers Find
New research indicates that deep sleep can have a positive effect on the brain’s ability to clean itself of toxic proteins, a process that occurs within the glymphatic system — essentially the brain’s plumbing.
The previously unknown glymphatic system was first described by researchers in 2012. Previously, scientists did not fully understand how the brain removes waste. By gaining greater understanding of this process, researchers say they are closer to finding an association between the quality of sleep and the onset of dementia symptoms.
Deep sleep, commonly categorized as the third of four stages of sleep, is non “rapid eye movement,”or NREM. There are three other NREM stages. Other names for this deep sleep stage are slow-wave sleep, delta sleep, and N3, since it is the third stage of sleep.
“Sleep is critical to the function of the brain’s waste removal system and this study shows that the deeper the sleep the better,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the latest study. “These findings also add to the increasingly clear evidence that quality of sleep or sleep deprivation can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
The accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain have already been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. And researchers have speculated that impairment of the glymphatic system from disrupted sleep could be a driver of the disease.
In the current study, researchers observed mice that were anesthetized with six different anesthetic regimens. While the mice were under anesthesia, the researchers tracked brain electrical activity, cardiovascular activity, and the cleansing flow of CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) through the brain. The body pumps CSF through brain tissue to wash away waste. The study reinforced the importance of deep sleep to the proper function of the glymphatic system.
Five years ago in a separate study involving mice, government researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. These results suggest a new role for sleep in health and disease. That study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the U.S. government’s National Institute’s of Health.
New Study Confirms MMR Vaccine is Safe, With No Risk of Autism
A large study published this week confirms what dozens of previous research findings have concluded: There is no evidence that the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, increases the risk of autism. The study of children born in Denmark is one of the largest ever of the MMR vaccine.
Researchers analyzed data collected from all children born in Denmark to Danish-born mothers between 1999 and 2010. Of the 657,461 children included in the analysis, 6,517 were diagnosed with autism over the next decade. However, there was no overall increased risk for the developmental disorder in those children who received the MMR vaccine — when compared with those who had not received the vaccine, the researchers found.
“The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination,” concluded the team of doctors and researchers in an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal. “It adds to previous studies through significant additional statistical power and by addressing hypotheses of susceptible subgroups and clustering of cases.”
The researchers said the current study is a follow-up to a similar, large project in 2002 that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That study involved 537,000 Danish children.
“The idea that vaccines cause autism is still around despite our original and other well-conducted studies,” the study’s first author, epidemiologist Anders Hviid of the Staten Serum Institute in Copenhagen, told NPR.org. “Parents still encounter these claims on social media, by politicians, by celebrities, etc.”
More Blood Pressure Meds Recalled Due to Cancer Risk From Ingredient, FDA Says
Additional drugs to treat high blood pressure are being recalled after they have been found to contain trace amounts of a potentially cancer-causing ingredient, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Over the past several months, drug companies have recalled hundreds of lots of blood pressure and heart medication drugs after tests showed small levels of potentially cancer-causing impurities. The latest recall is the latest in an ongoing investigation into a class of drugs known as angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs, which contain either valsartan, losartan or irbesartan and are used in patients with high blood pressure and other conditions.
Anyone taking blood pressure or other medications that fall into these categories should consult with their physician.
“The FDA has conducted a major investigation and has worked with drug companies to address the presence of impurities in these products,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Our ongoing effort has determined that the impurities may be generated by specific chemical reactions in the manufacturing process of the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredients.”
The FDA says it will continue to update the list of products included in the recall as more information becomes available from ongoing testing. If patients take an ARB drug product, they should check the list periodically, as information may change.