Description of Research Expertise:
Dr. Veasey’s laboratory focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying neural injury in sleep disorders and sleep disruption. The present focus of her lab is understanding the molecular mechanisms by which sleep disruption injures and even kills select neurons. Previously sleep researchers believed that all neurobehavioral consequences of sleep loss were fully reversible. Dr. Veasey's lab has led the way in discovering that chronic sleep loss and sleep fragmentation induce loss of wake-activated neurons, neurons essential for alertness and optimal cognitive performance. Most recently her lab has discovered that chronic sleep loss incites an amyloid cascade within locus coeruleus neurons and that this cascade leads to an unstoppable progression of tau degeneration marching throughout the forebrain.
Wake-active neurons in the brain are essential for optimal wakefulness and cognitive performance. Although there are many groups of these neurons, each playing unique roles in wake responses, the catecholaminergic wake neurons in the locus coeruleus and dorsal midbrain are particularly sensitive to diverse injuries, including aging and neurodegenerative processes. We recently identified SIRT1 as a key regulator of wake-active neuron function and integrity, a metabolic homeostat that is lost with aging. A key focus for the lab now is to identify why this is lost and why wake neurons rely so heavily on this protectant. Her lab is now keenly intrigued by sleep loss neuroinflammatory injury to locus coeruleus neurons that results in synaptic pruning and cognitive impairments.
Zhu Y, Fenik P, Zhan G, Somach R, Xin R, Veasey S.: Intermittent Short Sleep Results in Lasting Sleep Wake Disturbances and Degeneration of Locus Coeruleus and Orexinergic Neurons. Sleep 39 (8): 1601-11,2016.
Perron IJ, Pack AI, Veasey S.: Diet/Energy Balance Affect Sleep and Wakefulness Independent of Body Weight.
Sleep 38 (1): 1893-903,2015.
Yan Zhu, Polina Fenik, Guan Xia Zhan and Sigrid Veasey: Degeneration in Arousal Neurons in Chronic Sleep Disruption Modeling Sleep Apnea Frontiers in Neurology in press : 2015.
Beier UH, Angelin A, Akimova T, Wang L, Liu Y, Xiao H, Koike MA, Hancock SA, Bhatti TR, Han R, Jiao J, Veasey SC, Sims CA, Baur JA, Wallace DC, Hancock WW.: Essential role of mitochondrial energy metabolism in Foxp3+ T-regulatory cell function and allograft survival. FASEB J. in press : 2015.
Zhang, J., Zhu, Y., Zhan, G., Fenik, P., Panossian, L., Wang, M.M., Reid, S., Lai, D., Davis, J.G., Baur, J.A., Veasey, S.: Extended wakefulness: compromised metabolics in and degeneration of locus ceruleus neurons
J Neurosci 34 (12): 4418-4431,2014 .