Scientific article

Selective action of orexin (hypocretin) on nonspecific thalamocortical projection neurons

Published inThe Journal of neuroscience, vol. 22, no. 18, p. 7835-7839
Publication date2002

As is evident from the pathological consequences of its absence in narcolepsy, orexin (hypocretin) appears to be critical for the maintenance of wakefulness. Via diffuse projections through the brain, orexin-containing neurons in the hypothalamus may act on a number of wake-promoting systems. Among these are the intralaminar and midline thalamic nuclei, which project in turn in a widespread manner to the cerebral cortex within the nonspecific thalamocortical projection system. Testing the effect of orexin in rat brain slices, in two nuclei of this system, centromedial (CM) nuclei and rhomboid nuclei, we found that it depolarized and excited all neurons tested through a direct postsynaptic action. An additional analysis of this effect in CM neurons indicates that it results from the decrease of a potassium conductance. By a detailed comparison of the effects of orexin A and B, we established that orexin B was more potent than orexin A, indicating the probable mediation by orexin type 2 receptors. In contrast to its effect on the nonspecific thalamocortical projection neurons, orexin had no effect on the specific sensory relay neurons of the somatic, ventral posterolateral, and visual dorsal lateral geniculate nuclei. Orexin differs in this regard from norepinephrine and acetylcholine, to which neurons in the specific and nonspecific systems are sensitive. Orexin may thus act in the thalamus to promote wakefulness by exciting neurons of the nonspecific thalamocortical projection system, which, through widespread projections to the cerebral cortex, stimulate and maintain cortical activation.

  • Action Potentials/drug effects/physiology
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins/ pharmacology
  • Cerebral Cortex/cytology/drug effects/ physiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Neurons/ drug effects/physiology
  • Neuropeptides/ pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents/pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channels/metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide/metabolism
  • Thalamic Nuclei/cytology/drug effects/physiology
  • Thalamus/cytology/drug effects/ physiology
  • Wakefulness/physiology
Citation (ISO format)
BAYER, Laurence et al. Selective action of orexin (hypocretin) on nonspecific thalamocortical projection neurons. In: The Journal of neuroscience, 2002, vol. 22, n° 18, p. 7835–7839.
Updates (1)
ISSN of the journal0270-6474

Technical informations

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