Subregional organization of preoptic area/anterior hypothalamic projections to arousal-related monoaminergic cell groups

J Comp Neurol. 2001 Jan 22;429(4):638-53.


Pathways mediating the generation and/or maintenance of sleep reside within the preoptic/anterior hypothalamus (POAH). Reproduction, water balance, thermoregulation, and neuroendocrine functions are also associated with POAH, but it is not fully understood whether sleep is consolidated with these behavioral and physiological functions, or whether sleep-related circuitry is segregated from other POAH regions. Recent studies indicate that sleep mechanisms may be localized to the ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) and that this region sends inhibitory projections to waking/arousal-related neurons in the histaminergic tuberomammillary nucleus (TM), the noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC), and the serotonergic dorsal raphe (DR). The present study is a quantitative investigation of preoptic area efferents to these monoaminergic groups. The results demonstrate that biotinylated dextran injections in the VLPO region reveal a robust innervation of TM that was as much as five times greater than innervation derived from other POAH subregions. The innervation of TM originated almost exclusively from injection sites in the region of galanin neurons. VLPO projections to the LC were moderately dense and were greater than in other POAH regions except for equivalent input from the medial preoptic area. Projections to the dorsal raphe were equivalent to LC innervation and were generally two to three times greater from VLPO than from other POAH regions, except for projections from the lateral preoptic region, which were similar in magnitude. The rostral and caudal levels projected more to the TM, whereas the midrostral region of VLPO strongly innervated the LC core. These findings, with recent studies demonstrating medial and lateral extensions of the sleep-related VLPO neuronal group, indicate that descending arousal state control may be mediated by this specific galaninergic/gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic cell group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal*
  • Efferent Pathways / cytology
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / cytology
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / physiology*
  • Locus Coeruleus / cytology
  • Locus Coeruleus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Preoptic Area / cytology
  • Preoptic Area / physiology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology*
  • Raphe Nuclei / cytology
  • Raphe Nuclei / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep