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Sleep and Mood: Chicken or Egg?

  • Louis J. Ptáǒek
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Louis J. Ptáček, M.D., HHMI/UCSF, Neurology, 548F Rock Hall, MC-2922, 1550 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94143; .
    Affiliations
    Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Weill Neuroscience Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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  • Ying-Hui Fu
    Affiliations
    Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Weill Neuroscience Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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  • Andrew D. Krystal
    Affiliations
    Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Weill Neuroscience Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California
    Search for articles by this author
      It has long been recognized that there is an association between sleep and mood. Both of these phenomena are light-sensitive; light entrains the circadian clock, and too little light predisposes a significant portion of the population to seasonal affective disorder. Sleep deprivation can precipitate mania in patients with bipolar disease (
      • Wehr T.A.
      Sleep-loss as a possible mediator of diverse causes of mania.
      ) but can also be an effective treatment for “breaking” a bout of pharmacologically refractory depression (
      • Post R.M.
      • Kotin J.
      • Goodwin F.K.
      Effects of sleep deprivation on mood and central amine metabolism in depressed patients.
      ). Glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta has been shown to be a circadian gene in flies (
      • Martinek S.
      • Inonog S.
      • Manoukian A.S.
      • Young M.W.
      A role for the segment polarity gene shaggy/GSK-3 in the Drosophila circadian clock.
      ) and mammals (
      • Kaasik K.
      • Kivimae S.
      • Allen J.J.
      • Chalkley R.J.
      • Huang Y.
      • Baer K.
      • et al.
      Glucose sensor O-GlcNAcylation coordinates with phosphorylation to regulate circadian clock.
      ) and is a target of lithium therapy, which is useful in many patients with bipolar disease. Some mice with mutations causing circadian phenotypes show mood-like behaviors. However, people with mood disorders frequently experience difficulty falling and staying asleep and can manifest circadian phenotypes (e.g., early morning awakening and diurnal mood variation of severe depression) (
      • Schotte C.K.
      • Maes M.
      • Cluydts R.
      • Cosyns P.
      Cluster analytic validation of the DSM melancholic depression. The threshold model: Integration of quantitative and qualitative distinctions between unipolar depressive subtypes.
      ). Genetic variants in the circadian gene PER3 were recently shown to cause a human circadian phenotype associated with seasonal affective disorder (
      • Zhang L.
      • Hirano A.
      • Hsu P.K.
      • Jones C.R.
      • Sakai N.
      • Okuro M.
      • et al.
      A PERIOD3 variant causes a circadian phenotype and is associated with a seasonal mood trait.
      ). Given this remarkable list of associations between sleep/circadian function and mood, one is left asking: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
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