Fos immunoreactivity in hypocretin-synthesizing and hypocretin-1 receptor-expressing neurons: effects of diurnal and nocturnal spontaneous waking, stress and hypocretin-1 administration

Neuroscience. 2003;121(1):201-17. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(03)00334-8.


Hypocretin/orexin modulates sleep-wake state via actions across multiple terminal fields. Within waking, hypocretin may also participate in high-arousal processes, including those associated with stress. The current studies examined the extent to which alterations in neuronal activity, as measured by Fos immunoreactivity, occur within both hypocretin-synthesizing and hypocretin-1 receptor-expressing neurons across varying behavioral state/environmental conditions associated with varying levels of waking and arousal. Double-label immunohistochemistry was used to visualize Fos and either prepro-hypocretin in the lateral hypothalamus or hypocretin-1 receptors in the locus coeruleus and select basal forebrain regions involved in the regulation of behavioral state/arousal. Animals were tested under the following conditions: 1). diurnal sleeping; 2). diurnal spontaneous waking; 3). nocturnal spontaneous waking; and 4). high-arousal waking (diurnal novelty-stress). Additionally, the effects of hypocretin-1 administration (0.07 and 0.7 nmol) on levels of Fos were examined within these two neuronal populations. Time spent awake, scored for the 90-min preceding perfusion, was largely comparable in diurnal spontaneous waking, nocturnal spontaneous waking and high-arousal waking. Nocturnal spontaneous waking and high-arousal waking, but not diurnal spontaneous waking, were associated with increased levels of Fos within hypocretin-synthesizing neurons, relative to diurnal sleeping. Within hypocretin-1 receptor-expressing neurons, only high-arousal waking was associated with increased levels of Fos. Hypocretin-1 administration dose-dependently increased levels of Fos within hypocretin-1 receptor-expressing neurons to levels comparable to, or exceeding, levels observed in high-arousal waking. Combined, these observations support the hypothesis that hypocretin neuronal activity varies across the circadian cycle. Additionally, these data suggest that waking per se may not be associated with increased hypocretin neurotransmission. In contrast, high-arousal states, including stress, appear to be associated with substantially higher rates of hypocretin neurotransmission. Finally, these studies provide further evidence indicating coordinated actions of hypocretin across a variety of arousal-related basal forebrain and brainstem regions in the behavioral state modulatory actions of this peptide system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins*
  • Male
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / administration & dosage*
  • Neuropeptides / analysis
  • Neuropeptides / biosynthesis
  • Orexin Receptors
  • Orexins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / analysis
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / biosynthesis*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Orexin Receptors
  • Orexins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide