Firing of 'possibly' cholinergic neurons in the rat laterodorsal tegmental nucleus during sleep and wakefulness

Brain Res. 1992 Jan 13;569(2):210-20. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(92)90632-j.


To clarify functional roles of mesopontine cholinergic neurons as a component of an activating system, single neuronal activity in the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus (LDT) of undrugged rats, whose head was fixed painlessly, was recorded along with cortical EEG and neck EMG. Activity of some dorsal raphe (DR) neurons was also recorded for comparison. Most of the animals had been sleep-deprived for 24 h. Observation was made only on neurons generating broad spikes, presumed from previous studies to be cholinergic or monoaminergic. The position of recorded neurons was marked by Pontamine sky blue ejected from the glass pipette microelectrode, and was identified on sections processed for NADPH diaphorase histochemistry which specifically stained cholinergic neurons. According to their firing rates during wakefulness (AW), slow-wave sleep (SWS) and paradoxical sleep (PS), 46 broad-spike neurons in the LDT were classified into 4 groups: (1) neurons most active during AW and silent during PS (some of these neurons might be serotonergic rather than cholinergic, as all the 9 neurons in the DR); (2) neurons most active during PS and silent during AW; (3) neurons equally more active during AW and PS than SWS; and (4) others mainly characterized by transiently facilitated activity at awakening and/or onset of PS. Neurons of groups 2 and 3 were the major constituents of the LDT. In most neurons change in firing preceded EEG change, except at awakening from PS. These results suggest that: (1) the LDT is composed of cholinergic neurons with heterogenous characteristics in relation to sleep/wakefulness; and (2) some tegmental cholinergic neurons play a privotal role in induction and maintenance of PS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone) / analysis
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pons / physiology
  • Raphe Nuclei / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Sleep, REM / physiology
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • Acetylcholine