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J Neurosci. 2001 Apr 15;21(8):2912-8.

Deficiency of growth hormone-releasing hormone signaling is associated with sleep alterations in the dwarf rat.

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Department of Physiology, University of Szeged, Albert Szent-Györgyi Medical Center, 6720 Szeged, Hungary.


The somatotropic axis, and particularly growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), is implicated in the regulation of sleep-wake activity. To evaluate sleep in chronic somatotropic deficiency, sleep-wake activity was studied in dwarf (dw/dw) rats that are known to have a defective GHRH signaling mechanism in the pituitary and in normal Lewis rats, the parental strain of the dw/dw rats. In addition, expression of GHRH receptor (GHRH-R) mRNA in the hypothalamus/preoptic region and in the pituitary was also determined by means of reverse transcription-PCR, and GHRH content of the hypothalamus was measured. Hypothalamic/preoptic and pituitary GHRH-R mRNA levels were decreased in the dw/dw rats, indicating deficits in the central GHRHergic transmission. Hypothalamic GHRH content in dw/dw rats was also less than that found in Lewis rats. The dw/dw rats had less spontaneous nonrapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) (light and dark period) and rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) (light period) than did the control Lewis rats. After 4 hr of sleep deprivation, rebound increases in NREMS and REMS were normal in the dw/dw rat. As determined by fast Fourier analysis of the electroencephalogram (EEG), the sleep deprivation-induced enhancements in EEG slow-wave activity in the dw/dw rats were only one-half of the response in the Lewis rats. The results are compared with sleep findings previously obtained in GHRH-deficient transgenic mice. The alterations in NREMS are attributed to the defect in GHRH signaling, whereas the decreases in REMS might result from the growth hormone deficiency in the dw/dw rat.

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