20th Annual Sleep and Health Benefit

Median preoptic GABA and glutamate neurons exert differential control over sleep behavior

Natalia Machado, PhD

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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Clinical Implications
Sleep is necessary for the physical and mental wellbeing of any individual. The harmful effects of sleep deficiency are clearly demonstrated when humans or other animals are subjected to acute or chronic sleep deprivation, which results in deleterious effects on metabolism, cardiovascular function, mental health and cognition. In our recent study, we investigated the central mechanisms that are involved with the homeostatic and allostatic regulation of the wake-sleep cycle. We found two neuron populations that participate differentially in wake-sleep control; the median preoptic GABAergic neurons being critically involved in sleep homeostasis and the median preoptic glutamatergic neurons promoting sleep during allostatic (stressful) challenges.
Research Narrative

Previous studies suggest that the median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) plays an important role in regulating the wake-sleep cycle and in particular homeostatic sleep drive. However, the precise cellular phenotypes, targets and central mechanisms by which the MnPO neurons regulate the wake-sleep cycle remain unknown. Both excitatory and inhibitory MnPO neurons innervate brain regions implicated in sleep promotion and maintenance, suggesting that both cell types may participate on sleep control. Using genetically-targeted approaches, we investigated the role of the MnPO GABAergic (MnPOVgat) and glutamatergic (MnPOVglut2) neurons in modulating the wake-sleep behavior.

Research Category
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