Waking selective neurons in the posterior hypothalamus and their response to histamine H3-receptor ligands: an electrophysiological study in freely moving cats

G Vanni-Mercier, S Gigout, G Debilly, J S Lin
Behavioural Brain Research 2003 September 15, 144 (1): 227-41
Neurons which discharge selectively during waking (waking selective) have been found in the tuberomamillary nucleus (TM) and adjacent areas of the posterior hypothalamus. Although they share some electrophysiological properties with aminergic neurons, there is no direct evidence that they are histaminergic. We have recorded from posterior hypothalamic neurons during the sleep-wake cycle in freely moving cats, and investigated the effects on waking selective neurons of specific ligands of histaminergic H3-receptors, which autoregulate the activity of histaminergic neurons. Two types of neurons were seen. Waking selective neurons, termed "waking-on (W-on)," were located exclusively within the TM and adjacent areas, and discharged at a low regular rate during waking (1.71-2.97 Hz), decreased firing during light slow wave sleep (SWS), became silent during deep SWS and paradoxical sleep (PS) and resumed their activity on, or a few seconds before, awakening. "Waking-related" neurons, located in an area dorsal to the TM, displayed a similar, although less regular, low rate of firing (1.74-5.41 Hz) and a similar discharge profile during the sleep-wake cycle; however, unlike "W-on" neurons, they did not completely stop firing during deep SWS and PS. Intramuscular (i.m.) injection of ciproxifan (an H3-receptor antagonist, 1mg/kg), significantly increased the discharge rate of W-on neurons and induced c-fos expression in histamine-immunoreactive neurons, whereas i.m. injection of imetit (an H3-receptor agonist, 1mg/kg) or microinjection of alpha-methylhistamine (another H3-receptor agonist, 0.025-0.1 microg/0.2 microl) in the vicinity of these cells significantly decreased their discharge rate. Moreover, the effect of the antagonist was reversed by the agonists and vice versa. In contrast, "waking-related" neurons were unaffected by these H3-receptor ligands. These data provide evidence for the histaminergic nature of "W-on" neurons and their role in cortical desynchronization during waking, and highlight the heterogeneity of posterior hypothalamic neuronal populations, which might serve different functions during the wakefulness.

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