Homeostatic state of microglia in a rat model of chronic sleep restriction

Sleep. 2020 Nov 12;43(11):zsaa108. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa108.


Chronic sleep restriction (CSR) negatively impacts brain functions. Whether microglia, the brain's resident immune cells, play any role is unknown. We studied microglia responses to CSR using a rat model featuring slowly rotating wheels (3 h on/1 h off), which was previously shown to induce both homeostatic and adaptive responses in sleep and attention. Adult male rats were sleep restricted for 27 or 99 h. Control rats were housed in locked wheels. After 27 and/or 99 h of CSR, the number of cells immunoreactive for the microglia marker ionized calcium-binding adaptor molecule-1 (Iba1) and the density of Iba1 immunoreactivity were increased in 4/10 brain regions involved in sleep/wake regulation and cognition, including the prelimbic cortex, central amygdala, perifornical lateral hypothalamic area, and dorsal raphe nucleus. CSR neither induced mitosis in microglia (assessed with bromodeoxyuridine) nor impaired blood-brain barrier permeability (assessed with Evans Blue). Microglia appeared ramified in all treatment groups and, when examined quantitatively in the prelimbic cortex, their morphology was not affected by CSR. After 27 h, but not 99 h, of CSR, mRNA levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 were increased in the frontal cortex. Pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNA levels (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, and interleukin-6) were unchanged. Furthermore, cortical microglia were not immunoreactive for several pro- and anti-inflammatory markers tested, but were immunoreactive for the purinergic P2Y12 receptor. These results suggest that microglia respond to CSR while remaining in a physiological state and may contribute to the previously reported homeostatic and adaptive responses to CSR.

Keywords: Iba1; P2Y12 receptor; cytokines; immunohistochemistry; inflammatory markers; qRT-PCR; sleep deprivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain
  • Homeostasis
  • Male
  • Microglia*
  • Rats
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Deprivation*