Blood test may determine if kids are sleeping enough
A blood test could determine whether children are sleeping enough, according to a study published in Experimental Physiology.
Fabio Lauria, MSc, researcher at the Institute of Food Sciences in the National Research Council of Italy, and colleagues reported that the expression of specific circulating mircoRNAs is “positively associated with total sleep duration in healthy, normal-weight children and adolescents.”
“The current study shows for the first time that the expression level of circulating miR-26b-3p and miR-485-5p are different between ‘short sleepers’ and ‘normal sleepers,’” Lauria told Healio Primary Care.
Lauria and colleagues assessed blood levels of microRNA, a molecule that regulates gene expression. Previous work had suggested levels of two circulating microRNAs — miR-26b-3p and miR-485-5p — could be affected by sleep quality.
A total of 111 children from eight European countries with normal body weight were evaluated in the study.
Children were divided into two groups based on their reported sleeping habits. Those who slept less than the recommended hours of sleep each night — 9 hours for children aged 6 to 12 years and 8 hours for those aged 13 to 18 years — were considered short sleepers. Those who slept at least the recommended amount each night were categorized as normal sleepers.
Researchers found that circulating levels of miR-26b-3p and miR-485-5p differed between short sleepers and normal sleepers.
However, the correlation between sleep duration and both miR-26b-3p and miR-485-5p was only statistically significant in the “normal sleep” group.
Adjusting for children’s country or origin, age, gender, puberty status, daily screen time and parents’ education levels did not significantly change the results.
There was no association between microRNA levels and early or late sleep onset, and sleeping more on the weekend to compensate for lost sleep during the week had no effect on microRNA expression, according to the researchers.
The findings suggest that clinicians could use a simple blood test to evaluate circulating levels of microRNA and determine if children are sleeping enough, according to researchers.
Lauria explained that microRNAs have also allowed researchers to detect non-invasive biomarkers for other health conditions.
“In the era of the personalized medicine, these kinds of studies represent one of the key points in the field of molecular physiology because they are important to understand the mechanisms involved in different specific conditions such as cancer, heart diseases, obesity and sleep disorders as well,” he said. – by Erin Michael
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.