Cholinergic basal forebrain structures are not essential for mediation of the arousing action of glutamate
The cholinergic basal forebrain contributes to cortical activation and receives rich innervations from the ascending activating system. It is involved in the mediation of the arousing actions of noradrenaline and histamine. Glutamatergic stimulation in the basal forebrain results in cortical acetylcholine release and suppression of sleep. However, it is not known to what extent the cholinergic versus non-cholinergic basal forebrain projection neurones contribute to the arousing action of glutamate. To clarify this question, we administered N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), a glutamate agonist, into the basal forebrain in intact rats and after destruction of the cholinergic cells in the basal forebrain with 192 immunoglobulin (Ig)G-saporin. In eight Han–Wistar rats with implanted electroencephalogram/electromyogram (EEG/EMG) electrodes and guide cannulas for microdialysis probes, 0.23 μg 192 IgG-saporin was administered into the basal forebrain, while the eight control animals received artificial cerebrospinal fluid. Two weeks later, a microdialysis probe targeted into the basal forebrain was perfused with cerebrospinal fluid on the baseline day and for 3 h with 0.3 mmNMDA on the subsequent day. Sleep–wake activity was recorded for 24 h on both days. NMDA exhibited a robust arousing effect in both the intact and the lesioned rats. Wakefulness was increased and both non-REM and REM sleep were decreased significantly during the 3-h NMDA perfusion. Destruction of the basal forebrain cholinergic neurones did not abolish the wake-enhancing action of NMDA. Thus, the cholinergic basal forebrain structures are not essential for the mediation of the arousing action of glutamate.