Am J Pathol. 2024 Feb;194(2):307-320. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2023.11.004.
Sleep deprivation (SD) is a global public health burden, and has a detrimental role in the nervous system. Retina is an important part of the central nervous system; however, whether SD affects retinal structures and functions remains largely unknown. Herein, chronic SD mouse model indicated that loss of sleep for 4 months could result in reductions in the visual functions, but without obvious morphologic changes of the retina. Ultrastructural analysis by transmission electron microscope revealed the deterioration of mitochondria, which was accompanied with the decrease of multiple mitochondrial proteins in the retina. Mechanistically, oxidative stress was provoked by chronic SD, which could be ameliorated after rest, and thus restore retinal homeostasis. Moreover, the supplementation of two antioxidants, α-lipoic acid and N-acetyl-l-cysteine, could reduce retinal reactive oxygen species, repair damaged mitochondria, and, as a result, improve the retinal functions. Overall, this work demonstrated the essential roles of sleep in maintaining the integrity and health of the retina. More importantly, it points towards supplementation of antioxidants as an effective intervention strategy for people experiencing sleep shortages.