Rapid eye movement sleep (REM) is increased after controllable stress (modeled by escapable footshock, ES) and decreased after uncontrollable stress (modeled by inescapable footshock, IS). Decreases in REM after IS are exacerbated by corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and attenuated by a CRF antagonist. In this study, we trained mice with ES following injections of CRF, astressin (AST), or saline (SAL) to determine whether CRF would alter REM after ES. Male BALB/cJ mice (n=7) were implanted for recording sleep, activity and body temperature via telemetry and with a guide cannula aimed into a lateral ventricle. After recovery from surgery, sleep following exposure to a novel chamber was recorded as a handling control (HC). The mice received one day of training with ES without injection followed by weekly training sessions in which they received counterbalanced intracerebroventricular (ICV) microinjections of either SAL or CRF (days 7 & 14) or SAL or AST (days 21 & 28) prior to ES. On each experimental day, sleep was recorded for 20 h. Compared to HC, the mice showed significantly increased REM when receiving either SAL or AST prior to ES whereas CRF prior to ES significantly reduced REM. Stress-induced hyperthermia had longer duration after ES compared to HC, and was not significantly altered by CRF or AST compared to SAL. The current results demonstrate that activity in the central CRF system is an important regulator of stress-induced alterations in REM.
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