Evidence that neurons of the sublaterodorsal tegmental nucleus triggering paradoxical (REM) sleep are glutamatergic

Sleep. 2011 Apr 1;34(4):419-23. doi: 10.1093/sleep/34.4.419.


Study objectives: To determine whether sublaterodorsal tegmental nucleus (SLD) neurons triggering paradoxical (REM) sleep (PS) are glutamatergic.

Design: Three groups of rats were used: controls, rats deprived of PS for 72 h, and rats allowed to recover for 3 h after deprivation. Brain sections were processed for double labeling combining Fos immunohistochemistry and vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (vGLUT2) in situ hybridization.

Measurements and results: The number of single Fos+ and Fos/vGLUT2+ double-labeled neurons was counted for each experimental condition. A very large number of Fos+ neurons expressing vGLUT2 mRNA specifically after PS hypersomnia was counted in the SLD. These double-labeled cells accounted for 84% of the total number of Fos+ cells.

Conclusions: This finding adds further evidence to the concept that PS-on neurons of the SLD generating PS are of small size and glutamatergic in nature. By means of their descending projections to medullary and/or spinal glycinergic/GABAergic premotoneurons, they may be especially important for the induction of muscle atonia during PS, a disturbed phenomenon in narcolepsy and REM sleep behavior disorder.

Keywords: Parkinson; REM sleep behavior disorder; brainstem reticular formation; cataplexy; hypocretin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2 / physiology
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*


  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Slc2a2 protein, rat