[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mesencephalic (or midbrain) locomotor region (MLR) was first described in 1966 by Shik and colleagues, who demonstrated that electrical stimulation of this region induced locomotion in decerebrate (intercollicular transection) cats. The pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT) cholinergic neurons and midbrain extrapyramidal area (MEA) have been suggested to form the neuroanatomical basis for the MLR, but direct evidence for the role of these structures in locomotor behavior has been lacking. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the MLR is composed of non-cholinergic spinally projecting cells in the lateral pontine tegmentum. Our results showed that putative MLR neurons medial to the PPT and MEA in rats were non-cholinergic, glutamatergic, and express the orexin (hypocretin) type 2 receptors. Fos mapping correlated with motor behaviors revealed that the dorsal and ventral MLR are activated, respectively, in association with locomotion and an erect posture. Consistent with these findings, chemical stimulation of the dorsal MLR produced locomotion, whereas stimulation of the ventral MLR caused standing. Lesions of the MLR (dorsal and ventral regions together) resulted in cataplexy and episodic immobility of gait. Finally, trans-neuronal tracing with pseudorabies virus demonstrated disynaptic input to the MLR from the substantia nigra via the MEA. These findings offer a new perspective on the neuroanatomic basis of the MLR, and suggest that MLR dysfunction may contribute to the postural and gait abnormalities in Parkinsonism.
Frontiers in Neurology 06/2015; 6:140. DOI:10.3389/fneur.2015.00140
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the last eight years optogenetic tools have been widely used to identify functional synaptic connectivity between specific neuronal populations. Most of our knowledge comes from the photo-activation of channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) expressing inputs that release glutamate and GABA. More recent studies have been reporting releases of acetylcholine and biogenic amines but direct evidence for photo-evoked released of neuropeptides is still limited particularly in brain slice studies. The high fidelity in the responses with photo-evoked amino-acid transmission is ideal for ChR2-assisted circuit mapping and this approach has been successfully used in different fields of neuroscience. Conversely, neuropeptides employ a slow mode of communication and might require higher frequency and prolonged stimulations to be released. These factors may have contributed to the apparent lack of success for optogenetic release of neuropeptides. In addition, once released, neuropeptides often act on multiple sites and at various distances from the site of release resulting in a greater complexity of postsynaptic responses. Here, we focus on what optogenetics is telling us — and failing to tell us — about fast neurotransmitters and neuropeptides.
Current Opinion in Neurobiology 12/2014; 29:165–171. DOI:10.1016/j.conb.2014.07.016 · 6.63 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since I began reading the scientific literature when I was a student, I have had a bucket list of journals that published work I admired, and in which I eventually wanted to see some of my own work published. Getting papers into some of those journals (no, I have not yet completed the list…) has been a very satisfying part of my career. Along the way, as an author, reviewer, and editor, I have learned a great deal about how to prepare a paper so that it has the best chance of making it into my journal of choice. In the first two segments of this series, we explored the peer-review process and how to choose a journal in which to publish your work. In this article, we will discuss the process of writing a research paper to maximize the chance of its being accepted in your first-choice journal. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Annals of Neurology 11/2014; 77(1). DOI:10.1002/ana.24317 · 9.98 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fragmented sleep is a common and troubling symptom in ageing and Alzheimer's disease; however, its neurobiological basis in many patients is unknown. In rodents, lesions of the hypothalamic ventrolateral preoptic nucleus cause fragmented sleep. We previously proposed that the intermediate nucleus in the human hypothalamus, which has a similar location and neurotransmitter profile, is the homologue of the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, but physiological data in humans were lacking. We hypothesized that if the intermediate nucleus is important for human sleep, then intermediate nucleus cell loss may contribute to fragmentation and loss of sleep in ageing and Alzheimer's disease. We studied 45 older adults (mean age at death 89.2 years; 71% female; 12 with Alzheimer's disease) from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a community-based study of ageing and dementia, who had at least 1 week of wrist actigraphy proximate to death. Upon death a median of 15.5 months later, we used immunohistochemistry and stereology to quantify the number of galanin-immunoreactive intermediate nucleus neurons in each individual, and related this to ante-mortem sleep fragmentation. Individuals with Alzheimer's disease had fewer galaninergic intermediate nucleus neurons than those without (estimate -2872, standard error = 829, P = 0.001). Individuals with more galanin-immunoreactive intermediate nucleus neurons had less fragmented sleep, after adjusting for age and sex, and this association was strongest in those for whom the lag between actigraphy and death was <1 year (estimate -0.0013, standard error = 0.0005, P = 0.023). This association did not differ between individuals with and without Alzheimer's disease, and similar associations were not seen for two other cell populations near the intermediate nucleus. These data are consistent with the intermediate nucleus being the human homologue of the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus. Moreover, they demonstrate that a paucity of galanin-immunoreactive intermediate nucleus neurons is accompanied by sleep fragmentation in older adults with and without Alzheimer's disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Work in animals and humans has suggested the existence of a slow wave sleep (SWS)-promoting/electroencephalogram (EEG)-synchronizing center in the mammalian lower brainstem. Although sleep-active GABAergic neurons in the medullary parafacial zone (PZ) are needed for normal SWS, it remains unclear whether these neurons can initiate and maintain SWS or EEG slow-wave activity (SWA) in behaving mice. We used genetically targeted activation and optogenetically based mapping to examine the downstream circuitry engaged by SWS-promoting PZ neurons, and we found that this circuit uniquely and potently initiated SWS and EEG SWA, regardless of the time of day. PZ neurons monosynaptically innervated and released synaptic GABA onto parabrachial neurons, which in turn projected to and released synaptic glutamate onto cortically projecting neurons of the magnocellular basal forebrain; thus, there is a circuit substrate through which GABAergic PZ neurons can potently trigger SWS and modulate the cortical EEG.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Armodafinil is the pharmacologically active R-enantiomer of modafinil, a widely prescribed wake-promoting agent used to treat several sleep-related disorders including excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome. Remarkably, however, the neuronal circuitry through which modafinil exerts its wake-promoting effects remains unresolved. In the present study, we sought to determine if the wake-promoting effects of armodafinil are mediated, at least in part, by inhibiting the sleep-promoting neurons of the ventrolateral preoptic (VLPO) nucleus. To do so, we measured changes in waking following intraperitoneal administration of armodafinil (200 mg/kg) or the psychostimulant methamphetamine (1 mg/kg) in rats with cell-body specific lesion of the VLPO. Rats with histologically confirmed lesions of the VLPO demonstrated a sustained increase in wakefulness at baseline, but the increase in wakefulness following administration of both armodafinil and methamphetamine was similar to that of intact animals. These data suggest that armodafinil increases wakefulness by mechanisms that extend beyond inhibition of VLPO neurons.
Nature and Science of Sleep 05/2014; 6:57-63. DOI:10.2147/NSS.S53132
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Considerable electrophysiological and pharmacological evidence has long suggested an important role for acetylcholine in the regulation of REM sleep. For example, injection of the cholinergic agonist carbachol into the dorsomedial pons produces a REM sleep-like state with muscle atonia and cortical activation, both of which are cardinal features of REM sleep. Located within this region of the pons is the sublaterodorsal nucleus (SLD), a structure thought to be both necessary and sufficient for generating REM sleep muscle atonia. Subsets of glutamatergic SLD neurons potently contribute to motor inhibition during REM sleep through descending projections to motor-related glycinergic/GABAergic neurons in the spinal cord and ventromedial medulla. Prior electrophysiologic and pharmacologic studies examining the effects of acetylcholine on SLD neurons have however produced conflicting results. In the present study, we sought to clarify how acetylcholine influences the activity of spinally-projecting SLD (SLDsp) neurons. We used retrograde tracing in combination with patch clamp recordings and recorded pre- and post-synaptic effects of carbachol on SLDsp neurons. Carbachol acted presynaptically by increasing the frequency of glutamatergic miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs). We also found that carbachol directly excited SLDsp neurons by activating a Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger. Both pre- and postsynaptic effects were mediated by co-activation of M1 and M3 muscarinic receptors. These observations suggest that acetylcholine produces synergistic, excitatory pre- and post-synaptic responses on SLDsp neurons that in turn likely serve to promote muscle atonia during REM sleep.
The Journal of Physiology 12/2013; 592(7). DOI:10.1113/jphysiol.2013.261800 · 5.04 Impact Factor