Amino acids found in food improve sleep in mice with traumatic brain injury

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and University of Pennsylvania have improved sleep disturbances in mice with traumatic brain injuries by giving them branched chain amino acids – something all humans produce from foods in their normal diets. This discovery could lead to help for thousands of people who have long-term and debilitating sleep and wakefulness issues after they suffer concussions.

Dr. Lim

“If further research confirms what this study suggests, we could develop a dietary supplement of these amino acids that could be a viable therapy to help people after a concussion,” said Miranda Lim, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at the Portland VA Medical Center and an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine, neurology and behavioral neuroscience at OHSU. Dr. Lim is the first author of the study, published in December in Science Translational Medicine. She performed the research for this paper during her sleep medicine fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

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The National Institutes of Health (grants HL007713, HL111725-01A1, NS069629 and HD059288) supported the study, as well as the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine/Measey Research Fellowship. Cohen and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia hold a provisional U.S. patent for the use of branched chain amino acids as a therapy for traumatic brain injury.

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