Brain Water Channels Affect Sleep

11 May Brain Water Channels Affect Sleep

Research suggests that homeostatically regulated EEG slow waves occurring during NREM sleep is involved in the regulation of cerebrospinal fluid flow through the brain, removing metabolic waste. This process is facilitated by astrocytic water channel aquaporin 4 (AQP4). A recent study discovered that a common AQP4 haplotype is associated with EEG energy regulation in NREM slow wave range, with human carriers differing in the depth of slow wave sleep achieved when compared to control groups.  These group of people also coped differently when sleep deprived, suggesting changes in the flow of fluids through AQP4 channels may modify sleep loss coping mechanisms. The study also suggests that due to genetic variants within the AQP4 haplotype having previously been associated with progression of Alzheimer’s disease, that sleep driven exchange of fluids through AQP4 channels could also be linked.


Sara Marie Ulv Larsen, Hans-Peter Landolt, Wolfgang Berger, Maiken Nedergaard, Gitte Moos Knudsen, Sebastian Camillo Holst. Haplotype of the astrocytic water channel AQP4 is associated with slow wave energy regulation in human NREM sleep. PLOS Biology, 2020; 18 (5): e3000623 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000623