Genetics of sleep, circadian rhythms and brain autoimmunity

Sleep and brain autoimmune diseases have a strong genetic basis

The goal of my research team is to elucidate the genetic and environmental triggers that lead to brain autoimmune and sleep disorders. Sleep disorders have strong genetic drivers. Genetic factors respond and fine tune biological responses and adapt to changes in environment. In addition, environmental factors including alarm clock or smart phone, or weight and mood have substantial impact on timing and duration of sleep. Subset of sleep disorders are modulated by neuronal signaling proteins and caused by incorrect timing of the rhythms, such as advanced or delayed sleep phase syndrome. In contrast, others are due to autoimmune attack towards specific signaling proteins in the brain such as destruction of orexin/hypocretin neurons in narcolepsy. In my group, we analyze systematically environmental and genetic risk factors predisposing to different sleep disorders. We combine data from Finnish and global population cohorts, validate our findings in national and international carefully phenotyped clinical patient populations and examine disease outcomes in cellular models.

Find out more