A very large number of GABAergic neurons are activated in the tuberal hypothalamus during paradoxical (REM) sleep hypersomnia

PLoS One. 2010 Jul 26;5(7):e11766. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011766.


We recently discovered, using Fos immunostaining, that the tuberal and mammillary hypothalamus contain a massive population of neurons specifically activated during paradoxical sleep (PS) hypersomnia. We further showed that some of the activated neurons of the tuberal hypothalamus express the melanin concentrating hormone (MCH) neuropeptide and that icv injection of MCH induces a strong increase in PS quantity. However, the chemical nature of the majority of the neurons activated during PS had not been characterized. To determine whether these neurons are GABAergic, we combined in situ hybridization of GAD(67) mRNA with immunohistochemical detection of Fos in control, PS deprived and PS hypersomniac rats. We found that 74% of the very large population of Fos-labeled neurons located in the tuberal hypothalamus after PS hypersomnia were GAD-positive. We further demonstrated combining MCH immunohistochemistry and GAD(67)in situ hybridization that 85% of the MCH neurons were also GAD-positive. Finally, based on the number of Fos-ir/GAD(+), Fos-ir/MCH(+), and GAD(+)/MCH(+) double-labeled neurons counted from three sets of double-staining, we uncovered that around 80% of the large number of the Fos-ir/GAD(+) neurons located in the tuberal hypothalamus after PS hypersomnia do not contain MCH. Based on these and previous results, we propose that the non-MCH Fos/GABAergic neuronal population could be involved in PS induction and maintenance while the Fos/MCH/GABAergic neurons could be involved in the homeostatic regulation of PS. Further investigations will be needed to corroborate this original hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / genetics
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / metabolism
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / genetics
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Melanins / genetics
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pituitary Hormones / genetics
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / genetics
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Melanins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • RNA, Messenger
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • melanin-concentrating hormone