Role of the lateral paragigantocellular nucleus in the network of paradoxical (REM) sleep: an electrophysiological and anatomical study in the rat

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e28724. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028724. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


The lateral paragigantocellular nucleus (LPGi) is located in the ventrolateral medulla and is known as a sympathoexcitatory area involved in the control of blood pressure. In recent experiments, we showed that the LPGi contains a large number of neurons activated during PS hypersomnia following a selective deprivation. Among these neurons, more than two-thirds are GABAergic and more than one fourth send efferent fibers to the wake-active locus coeruleus nucleus. To get more insight into the role of the LPGi in PS regulation, we combined an electrophysiological and anatomical approach in the rat, using extracellular recordings in the head-restrained model and injections of tracers followed by the immunohistochemical detection of Fos in control, PS-deprived and PS-recovery animals. With the head-restrained preparation, we showed that the LPGi contains neurons specifically active during PS (PS-On neurons), neurons inactive during PS (PS-Off neurons) and neurons indifferent to the sleep-waking cycle. After injection of CTb in the facial nucleus, the neurons of which are hyperpolarized during PS, the largest population of Fos/CTb neurons visualized in the medulla in the PS-recovery condition was observed in the LPGi. After injection of CTb in the LPGi itself and PS-recovery, the nucleus containing the highest number of Fos/CTb neurons, moreover bilaterally, was the sublaterodorsal nucleus (SLD). The SLD is known as the pontine executive PS area and triggers PS through glutamatergic neurons. We propose that, during PS, the LPGi is strongly excited by the SLD and hyperpolarizes the motoneurons of the facial nucleus in addition to local and locus coeruleus PS-Off neurons, and by this means contributes to PS genesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / pathology
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / pathology
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / physiopathology
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena*
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / pathology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*