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Sleep. 2010 Dec;33(12):1703-10.

Paradoxical sleep insomnia and decreased cholinergic neurons after myocardial infarction in rats.

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Centre de biomédecine, Hópital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Sleep. 2011;34(2):240.



Acute myocardial infarction (MI) is followed, within a few hours, by neuronal loss in the central nervous system (CNS), including the limbic system, the hypothalamus, and the brainstem. Sleep before and after MI was investigated in the first experiment. In a parallel experiment, 2 weeks after MI, we quantified brainstem cholinergic neurons known to control paradoxical sleep (PS).


Data were obtained from 28 adult male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 350-375 g and maintained under a 12-12 light-dark cycle in 2 experiments on 16 and 12 rats, respectively. The 16 animals in the first experiment were implanted with chronic electroencephalographic (EEG) and electromyographic (EMG) electrodes. A week after surgery, these animals were habituated for 2 days to the recording equipment, and baseline sleep was charted for 24 h. The next morning, MI was induced in 8 rats by occluding the left anterior descending coronary artery for 40 min. The remaining 8 rats served as sham-operated controls. Sleep was recorded again 2 weeks after MI. The number of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive neurons was counted in the second, parallel experiment on 6 MI and 6 sham rats. Compared to the sham controls, MI rats displayed longer latency to sleep onset, shorter latency to paradoxical sleep (PS), and curtailed PS duration. The number of ChAT-positive neurons in the pedunculopontine tegmentum (PPT) area of MI rats was significantly decreased compared to the sham controls, while the number of laterodorsal tegmentum (LDT) cholinergic neurons was not different.


Acute MI is accompanied, within 2 weeks, by PS-specific insomnia that can be explained, at least partly, by a specific loss of cholinergic neurons in an area known to control PS.


Paradoxical sleep; acetylcholine; depression; model; myocardial infarction; rat

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