Circadian and Dark-Pulse Activation of Orexin/Hypocretin Neurons
Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Metabolism
Temporal control of brain and behavioral states emerges as a consequence of the interaction between circadian and homeostatic neural circuits. This interaction permits the daily rhythm of sleep and wake, regulated in parallel by circadian cues originating from the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and arousal-promoting signals arising from the orexin-containing neurons in the tuberal hypothalamus (TH). Intriguingly, the SCN circadian clock can be reset by arousal-promoting stimuli while activation
... while activation of orexin/hypocretin neurons is believed to be under circadian control, suggesting the existence of a reciprocal relationship. Unfortunately, since orexin neurons are themselves activated by locomotor promoting cues, it is unclear how these two systems interact to regulate behavioral rhythms. Here mice were placed in conditions of constant light, which suppressed locomotor activity, but also revealed a highly pronounced circadian pattern in orexin neuronal activation. Significantly, activation of orexin neurons in the medial and lateral TH occurred prior to the onset of sustained wheel-running activity. Moreover, exposure to a 6 h dark pulse during the subjective day, a stimulus that promotes arousal and phase advances behavioral rhythms, activated neurons in the medial and lateral TH including those containing orexin. Concurrently, this stimulus suppressed SCN activity while activating cells in the median raphe. In contrast, dark pulse exposure during the subjective night did not reset SCN-controlled behavioral rhythms and caused a transient suppression of neuronal activation in the TH. Collectively these results demonstrate, for the first time, pronounced circadian control of orexin neuron activation and implicate recruitment of orexin cells in dark pulse resetting of the SCN circadian clock.