Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2002 Sep 1;22(17):7695-711.

Anatomical, physiological, and pharmacological characteristics of histidine decarboxylase knock-out mice: evidence for the role of brain histamine in behavioral and sleep-wake control.

Author information

Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U480, Department of Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Claude Bernard University, 69373 Lyon, France.


The hypothesis that histaminergic neurons are involved in brain arousal is supported by many studies. However, the effects of the selective long-term abolition of histaminergic neurons on the sleep-wake cycle, indispensable in determining their functions, remain unknown. We have compared brain histamine(HA)-immunoreactivity and the cortical-EEG and sleep-wake cycle under baseline conditions or after behavioral or pharmacological stimuli in wild-type (WT) and knock-out mice lacking the histidine decarboxylase gene (HDC-/-). HDC-/-mice showed an increase in paradoxical sleep, a decrease in cortical EEG power in theta-rhythm during waking (W), and a decreased EEG slow wave sleep/W power ratio. Although no major difference was noted in the daily amount of spontaneous W, HDC-/-mice showed a deficit of W at lights-off and signs of somnolence, as demonstrated by a decreased sleep latencies after various behavioral stimuli, e.g., WT-mice placed in a new environment remained highly awake for 2-3 hr, whereas HDC-/-mice fell asleep after a few minutes. These effects are likely to be attributable to lack of HDC and thus of HA. In WT mice, indeed, intraperitoneal injection of alpha-fluoromethylhistidine (HDC-inhibitor) caused a decrease in W, whereas injection of ciproxifan (HA-H3 receptor antagonist) elicited W. Both injections had no effect in HDC-/-mice. Moreover, PCR and immunohistochemistry confirmed the absence of the HDC gene and brain HA-immunoreactive neurons in the HDC-/-mice. These data indicate that disruption of HA-synthesis causes permanent changes in the cortical-EEG and sleep-wake cycle and that, at moments when high vigilance is required (lights off, environmental change em leader ), mice lacking brain HA are unable to remain awake, a prerequisite condition for responding to behavioral and cognitive challenges. We suggest that histaminergic neurons also play a key role in maintaining the brain in an awake state faced with behavioral challenges.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center