Hypothalamic orexin-containing neurons are activated by CO2 and contribute to hypercapnic ventilatory activation. However, their role in oxygen-related regulation of breathing is not well defined. In this study, we examined whether an experimental model mimicking apnea-induced repetitive hypoxemia (intermittent hypoxia [IH]) activates orexin-containing neurons. Mice were exposed to IH (5×5min at 10% O2), intermittent hyperoxia (IO; 5×5min at 50% O2), sustained hypoxia (SH; 25min at 10% O2), or sham stimulation. Their brains were examined using double immunohistochemical staining for orexin and c-Fos. The results indicated that IH (25.8±3.0%), but not SH (9.0±1.5%) activated orexin-containing neurons when compared to IO (5.5±0.6%) and sham stimulation (5.9±1.4%). These results correlate with those of our previous work showing that IH-induced respiratory long-term facilitation is dependent on orexin-containing neurons. Taken together, orexin contributes to repetitive hypoxia-induced respiratory activation and the hypoxic activation of orexin-containing neurons is pattern dependent.
Keywords: Hypocretin; Hypothalamus; Hypoxia; Sleep apnea; c-Fos.
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