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Curing Jet Lag By Resetting The Biological Clock May Soon Be Achieved By Vasopressin Eye Drops, Study Suggests

First Posted: Apr 19, 2017 04:10 AM EDT
Jet Lag
New research studies on rats reveal novel facts on the role of retinal ganglions in causing and quite possibly curing jet lag.
(Photo : BuzzFeedBlue/YouTube screenshot)

Most people experience jet lag when they travel through different time zones. It not only disrupts the body's circadian rhythm but also confuses the biological clock. Insomnia, confusion, mood disorders and other physiological problems associated with the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems are the most common outcomes of jet lags.

In normal conditions, the biological clock of the body maintains a coherent system of bodily functions that instruct the body to sleep at sunset and wake up at sunrise. It has already been established that the biological clock is composed of around 20,000 brain cells located deep in the hypothalamus region. These cells together form the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Furthermore, the SCN is known to function by altering the vasopressin expression levels.

However, the exact mechanisms that involve signaling the SCN remained ambiguous. According to a recent study that was recently published in The Journal of Physiology, the retinal ganglion cells present in the eyes detect abnormal or more appropriately untimely exposure to bright light. They then communicate the same to the SCN center of the biological clock via vasopressin, Live Science reported.

Medical News Today reported the study conducted on rats showed that exposure to bright pulse of light activates the retinal ganglion cells as well as the SCN. The researchers further investigated the exact role of vasopressin in the process of inducing and curing jet lag and found that blocking vasopressin activity in the brain significantly reduced SCN's reaction to exposure to bright pulse of light, i.e., disruption of biological clock.

According to Economic Times, the newly discovered information may be used in the development of therapeutic vasopressin blocker-based eye drops. These drops can help in the treatment of jet lags as well as insomnia caused due to daily exposure to bright light of TV and mobile phones, especially during the night time.

Having said that, it must also be considered that the present study was conducted on rat models, and the implication of these results on human beings demands further research. If successful, it will be a breakthrough in medical science that can cure jet lag, insomnia and mood disorders with just an eye drop.

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