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J Physiol. 2004 Jan 1;554(Pt 1):202-15.

Activity of dorsal raphe cells across the sleep-waking cycle and during cataplexy in narcoleptic dogs.

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Department Psychiatry, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Cataplexy, a symptom associated with narcolepsy, represents a unique dissociation of behavioural states. During cataplectic attacks, awareness of the environment is maintained, as in waking, but muscle tone is lost, as in REM sleep. We have previously reported that, in the narcoleptic dog, noradrenergic cells of the locus coeruleus cease discharge during cataplexy. In the current study, we report on the activity of serotonergic cells of the dorsal raphe nucleus. The discharge patterns of serotonergic dorsal raphe cells across sleep-waking states did not differ from those of dorsal raphe and locus coeruleus cells recorded in normal rats, cats and monkeys, with tonic discharge in waking, reduced activity in non-REM sleep and cessation of activity in REM sleep. However, in contrast with locus coeruleus cells, dorsal raphe REM sleep-off neurones did not cease discharge during cataplexy. Instead, discharge continued at a level significantly higher than that seen in REM sleep and comparable to that seen in non-REM sleep. We also identified several cells in the dorsal raphe whose pattern of activity was the opposite of that of the presumed serotonergic cells. These cells were maximally active in REM sleep and minimally active in waking and increased activity during cataplexy. The difference between noradrenergic and serotonergic cell discharge profiles in cataplexy suggests different roles for these cell groups in the normal regulation of environmental awareness and muscle tone and in the pathophysiology of narcolepsy.

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