REM sleep enhancement and behavioral cataplexy following orexin (hypocretin)-II receptor antisense perfusion in the pontine reticular formation

M M Thakkar, V Ramesh, E G Cape, S Winston, R E Strecker, R W McCarley
Sleep Research Online: SRO 1999, 2 (4): 112-20
Orexin (hypocretin)-containing neurons of the hypothalamus project to brainstem sites that are involved in the neural control of REM sleep, including the locus coeruleus, the dorsal raphe nucleus, the cholinergic zone of the mesopontine tegmentum, and the pontine reticular formation (PRF). Orexin knockout mice exhibit narcolepsy/cataplexy, and a mutant and defective gene for the orexin type II receptor is present in dogs with an inherited form of narcolepsy/cataplexy. However, the physiological systems mediating these effects have not been described. We reasoned that, since the effector neurons for the majority of REM sleep signs, including muscle atonia, were located in the PRF, this region was likely implicated in the production of these orexin-related abnormalities. To test this possibility, we used microdialysis perfusion of orexin type II receptor antisense in the PRF of rats. Ten to 24 hours after antisense perfusion, REM sleep increased two- to three-fold during both the light period (quiescent phase) and the dark period (active phase), and infrared video showed episodes of behavioral cataplexy. Moreover, preliminary data indicated no REM-related effects following perfusion with nonsense DNA, or when perfusion sites were outside the PRF. More work is needed to provide precise localization of the most effective site of orexin-induced inhibition of REM sleep phenomena.

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