Sleep fragmentation has differential effects on obese and lean mice

J Mol Neurosci. 2015 Mar;55(3):644-52. doi: 10.1007/s12031-014-0403-7. Epub 2014 Aug 26.


Chronic sleep fragmentation (SF), common in patients with sleep apnea, correlates with the development of obesity. We hypothesized that SF differentially affects neurobehavior in lean wild-type (WT) and obese pan-leptin receptor knockout (POKO) mice fed the same normal diet. First, we established an SF paradigm by interrupting sleep every 2 min during the inactive light span. The maneuver was effective in decreasing sleep duration and bout length, and in increasing sleep state transition and waking, without significant rebound sleep in the dark span. Changes of sleep architecture were evident in the light span and consistent across days 1-10 of SF. There was reduced NREM, shortened sleep latency, and increased state transitions. During the light span of the first day of SF, there also was reduction of REM and increased delta power of slow-wave sleep. Potential effects of SF on thermal pain threshold, locomotor activity, and anxiety were then tested. POKO mice had a lower circadian amplitude of pain latency than WT mice in the hot plate test, and both groups had lowest tolerance at 4 pm (zeitgeber time (ZT) 10) and longest latency at 4 am (ZT 22). SF increased the pain threshold in WT but not in POKO mice when tested at 8 a.m. (ZT 2). Both the POKO mutation and SF resulted in reduced physical activity and increased anxiety, but there was no additive effect of these two factors. Overall, SF and the POKO mutation differentially regulate mouse behavior. The results suggest that obesity can blunt neurobehavioral responses to SF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Delta Rhythm
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Receptors, Leptin / genetics
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Stages


  • Receptors, Leptin