Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

GABA release in posterior hypothalamus across sleep-wake cycle

D. Nitz, J. M. Siegel


The activity of neurons in the posterior hypothalamus (PH) is thought to contribute to the production of wakefulness and electroencephalograph desynchronization. Inactivation of neuronal activity in this area is known to induce sleep. Most PH neurons decrease unit discharge during slow-wave sleep (SWS) relative to wake and rapid eye movement sleep. In the present study, we sought to examine potential sources of inhibition or disfacilitation underlying the reduction of PH unit activity during SWS in the cat. We employed the microdialysis technique in conjunction with high-performance liquid chromatography methods for the quantification of glutamate, glycine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) release. We found a selective increase in GABA release during SWS in the PH. Glutamate and glycine levels were unchanged across the sleep-wake cycle. microinjection of the GABAA-receptor agonist muscimol, into the same areas from which microdialysis samples were collected, increased SWS time. Our studies support the hypothesis that GABA release in the posterior hypothalamus mediates inhibition of posterior hypothalamic neurons, thereby facilitating SWS.