Prostaglandins and adenosine in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness

Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2007 Feb;7(1):33-8. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2006.09.004. Epub 2006 Nov 28.


Prostaglandin (PG) D2 and adenosine are potent humoral sleep-inducing factors that accumulate in the brain during prolonged wakefulness. PGD2 is produced in the brain by lipocalin-type PGD synthase, which is localized mainly in the leptomeninges, choroid plexus and oligodendrocytes, and circulates in the cerebrospinal fluid as a sleep hormone. It stimulates DP1 receptors on leptomeningeal cells of the basal forebrain to release adenosine as a paracrine signaling molecule to promote sleep. Adenosine activates adenosine A2A receptor-expressing sleep-active neurons in the basal forebrain and the ventrolateral preoptic area. Sleep-promoting neurons in the ventrolateral preoptic area send inhibitory signals to suppress the histaminergic neurons in the tuberomammillary nucleus, which contribute to arousal through histamine H1 receptors. Increased knowledge of the molecular mechanisms by which PGD2 induces sleep through activation of adenosine A2A receptors and inhibition of the histaminergic arousal system will be useful both for a better understanding of sleep/wake regulation and for the development of novel types of sleeping pills or anti-doze drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Histamine / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Prostaglandin D2 / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology*


  • Histamine
  • Adenosine
  • Prostaglandin D2