Lesion of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus in rat augments cortical activation and disturbs sleep/wake state transitions structure

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The pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT) represents a major aggregation of cholinergic neurons in the mammalian brainstem, which is important in the generation and maintenance of REM sleep.

We investigated the effects of unilateral and bilateral PPT lesions on sleep and all the conventional sleep-state related EEG frequency bands amplitudes, in an attempt to find the EEG markers for the onset and progression of PPT cholinergic neuronal degeneration.

The experiments were performed on 35 adult male Wistar rats, chronically implanted for sleep recording. During the surgical procedure for EEG and EMG electrodes implantation, the unilateral or bilateral PPT lesion was produced under ketamine/diazepam anesthesia, by the stereotaxically guided microinfusion of 100 nl 0.1 M ibotenic acid (IBO) into PPT. We applied Fourier analysis to signals acquired throughout 6 h of recordings, and each 10 s epoch was differentiated as a Wake, NREM or REM state. We also calculated the group probability density estimates (PDE) of all Wake, NREM and REM conventional EEG frequency amplitudes, and the number of all the transition states using MATLAB 6.5.

Our results show that the unilateral or bilateral PPT lesions did not change the sleep/wake architecture, but did change the sleep/wake state transitions structure and the sleep/state related “EEG microstructure”.

Unilateral or bilateral PPT lesions sustainably increased Wake/REM and REM/Wake transitions from 14 to 35 days after lesions. This was followed by decreased NREM/REM and REM/NREM transitions from 28 days only in the case of the bilateral PPT lesion.

The unilateral PPT lesion augmented both Wake theta and REM beta while it also attenuated the relative amplitude of the Wake delta frequency, with a delay of one week. Following a bilateral PPT lesion there was augmentation of the relative amplitude of the Wake, NREM, and REM beta and REM gamma frequency which occurred simultaneously to NREM and Wake delta attenuation.

We have shown that the PPT cholinergic neuronal loss sustainably increased the number of the Wake/REM and REM/Wake transitions and augmented sleep-states related cortical activation that was simultaneously expressed by the high frequency amplitude augmentation, as well as Wake and NREM delta frequency attenuation.


▸ We studied the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT) lesion impact on sleep. ▸ Unilateral or bilateral PPT lesion was done in rat using ibotenic acid microinfusion. ▸ PPT cholinergic neuronal loss did not change sleep/wake architecture. ▸ Impaired PPT cholinergic control disturbed the sleep/state transitions structure. ▸ PPT cholinergic cells neurodegeneration augmented cortical activation during sleep.

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