Effects on sleep of melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) microinjections into the dorsal raphe nucleus

Brain Res. 2009 Apr 10:1265:103-10. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.02.010. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Neurons that utilize melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) as a neuromodulator are located in the lateral hypothalamus and incerto-hypothalamic area, and project diffusely throughout the central nervous system, including areas that participate in the generation and maintenance of the states of sleep and wakefulness. Recent studies have shown that the hypothalamic MCHergic neurons are active during rapid eye movements (REM) sleep, and that intraventricular microinjections of MCH induce slow wave sleep (SWS) and REM sleep. There are particular dense MCHergic projections to the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR), a neuroanatomical structure involved in several functions during wakefulness, and in the regulation of sleep variables. Because of this fact, we analyzed the effect of microinjections of MCH into this nucleus on sleep and waking states in the rat. Compared to control microinjections, MCH (100 ng) produced a moderate increase in SWS (243.7+/-6.0 vs. 223.2+/-8.8 min, p<0.05) and an important increment in REM sleep (35.5+/-2.5 vs. 20.8+/-3.4 min, p<0.01) due to an increase in the number of REM sleep episodes. The increase of REM sleep was accompanied by a reduction in the time spent in light sleep and wakefulness. We therefore conclude that the hypothalamic MCHergic system, via its action in the DR, plays an important role in the generation and/or maintenance of the states of sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroencephalography
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Melanins / administration & dosage
  • Melanins / pharmacology*
  • Microinjections
  • Pituitary Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Pituitary Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Raphe Nuclei / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Sleep, REM / drug effects*
  • Wakefulness / drug effects*


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Melanins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • melanin-concentrating hormone