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Neuroscience. 2003;120(3):855-9.

Potential role of the cannabinoid receptor CB1 in rapid eye movement sleep rebound.

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Grupo de Neurociencias, Departamento de Fisiología, Apdo. Postal 70-250, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, D. F. 04510, México, Mexico


Sleep is an unavoidable activity of the brain. The delay of the time to sleep (sleep deprivation), induces an increase of slow-wave sleep and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep (rebound) once the subject is allowed to sleep. This drive to sleep has been hypothesized to be dependent on the accumulation of sleep-inducing molecules and on the high expression of these molecule receptors. In this study we selectively deprived rats of REM sleep for 24 h by using the flowerpot technique. One group deprived of REM sleep was treated with SR141716A, a cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) receptor antagonist and then allowed to sleep for the next 4 h. Two other groups were killed, one immediately after the REM sleep deprivation period and the other after 2 h of REM sleep rebound (REM sleep deprivation plus 2 h of rebound). In both groups we determined the expression of the CB1 receptor and its mRNA. Results indicated that SR141716A prevents REM sleep rebound and REM sleep deprivation does not modify the expression of the CB1 protein or mRNA. However, REM sleep deprivation plus 2 h of sleep rebound increased the CB1 receptor protein and, slightly but significantly, decreased mRNA expression. These results suggest that endocannabinoids may be participating in the expression of REM sleep rebound.

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