Hypocretin-2 (orexin-B) modulation of superficial dorsal horn activity in rat

J Physiol. 2002 Jan 15;538(Pt 2):517-25. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2001.013120.


The hypothalamic peptides hypocretin-1 (orexin A) and hypocretin-2 (Hcrt-2; orexin B) are important in modulating behaviours demanding arousal, including sleep and appetite. Fibres containing hypocretin project from the hypothalamus to the superficial dorsal horn (SDH) of the spinal cord (laminae I and II); however, the effects produced by hypocretins on SDH neurones are unknown. To study the action of Hcrt-2 on individual SDH neurones, tight-seal, whole-cell recordings were made with biocytin-filled electrodes from rat lumbar spinal cord slices. In 19 of 63 neurones, Hcrt-2 (30 nM to 1 microM) evoked an inward (excitatory) current accompanied by an increase in baseline noise. The inward current and noise were unaffected by TTX but were blocked by the P(2X) purinergic receptor antagonist suramin (300-500 microM). Hcrt-2 (30 nM to 1 microM) increased the frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) in the majority of neurones. The sIPSC increase was blocked by strychnine (1 microM) and by TTX (1 microM), suggesting that the increased sIPSC frequency was glycine and action potential dependent. Hcrt-2 increased the frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) in a few neurones but had no effect on dorsal root-evoked EPSCs in these or in other neurones. Neurones located in outer lamina II, particularly radial and vertical cells, were most likely to respond to Hcrt-2. We conclude that Hcrt-2 has excitatory effects on certain SDH neurones, some of which exert inhibitory influences on other cells of the region, consistent with the perspective that hypocretin has a role in orchestrating reactions related to arousal, including nociception, pain and temperature sense.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrophysiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology*
  • Orexins
  • Rats
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Orexins