Mild electrical stimulation of pontine tegmentum around locus coeruleus reduces rapid eye movement sleep in rats

Neurosci Res. 1996 Feb;24(3):227-35. doi: 10.1016/0168-0102(95)00998-1.


The norepinephrinergic neurons in the locus coeruleus (LC) cease firing during REM sleep (REMS) and increase firing during REMS deprivation. Most of the earlier studies used lesion and transection techniques which could not confirm the role of LC in REMS generation and/or its maintenance, if at all. Hence, in this study it was hypothesized that if the LC REM-off neurons must cease firing before the onset of REMS, its continuous activation should eliminate or at least reduce REMS. Electrophysiological parameters characterizing sleep-wakefulness-REMS were recorded in freely moving male albino rats. In an attempt not to allow the REM-off LC neurons to cease firing, low intensity (200 microA), low frequency (2 Hz) rectangular (300 microseconds) pulses were continuously delivered to the LC bilaterally through chronically implanted electrodes, and the effects on sleep-wakefulness-REMS were investigated. Although the stimulation did not affect sleep state of the animals, it reduced REMS significantly. The effect on REMS was similar to that of REMS deprivation. Total duration of REMS was significantly reduced during stimulation and showed a rebound increase during the post stimulation period. This reduction in REMS duration was primarily due to a significant reduction in the REMS frequency/h while the mean REMS duration/episode was not affected. Thus, the results of this study suggest that the stimulated area (LC) affects REMS, most likely by suppression of REMS generation process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Locus Coeruleus / anatomy & histology
  • Locus Coeruleus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Pons / anatomy & histology
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology