Orexinergic neurons are involved in the chemosensory control of breathing during the dark phase in a Parkinson's disease model

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Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra compacta (SNpc) and the only risk factor is aging. We showed that in 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-model of PD there is a reduction in the neuronal profile within the brainstem ventral respiratory column with a decrease in the hypercapnic ventilatory response. Here we tested the involvement of orexin cells from the lateral hypothalamus/perifornical area (LH/PeF) on breathing in a 6-OHDA PD model. In this model of PD, there is a reduction in the total number of orexinergic neurons and in the number of orexinergic neurons that project to the RTN, without changing the number of CO2-activated orexinergic neurons during the dark phase. The ventilation at rest and in response to hypercapnia (7% CO2) was assessed in animals that received 6-OHDA or vehicle injections into the striatum and saporin anti-Orexin-B or IgG saporin into the LH/PeF during the sleep and awake states. The experiments showed a reduction of respiratory frequency (fR) at rest during the light phase in PD animals only during sleep. During the dark phase, there was an impaired fR response to hypercapnia in PD animals with depletion of orexinergic neurons in awake and sleeping rats. In conclusion, the degeneration of orexinergic neurons in this model of PD can be related to impaired chemoreceptor function in the dark phase.HighlightsParkinson's disease induced-animals have degeneration of orexinergic cells.Orexinergic cells are activated only in the dark phase during high levels of CO2.PD animals have a reduction in respiratory frequency at rest only in the light phase.Orexinergic depletion in PD animals impairs the central chemoreflex in the dark phase.

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