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J Neurosci. 2017 Mar 1;37(9):2268-2272. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1708-16.2016.

Mapping the Hypocretin/Orexin Neuronal System: An Unexpectedly Productive Journey.

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Center for Research in Neuroscience of Lyon, Sleep team, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5292, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U1028, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France, and
Center for Neuroscience, Biosciences Division, SRI International, Menlo Park, California 94025.


Early in 1998, we (de Lecea et al., 1998) and others (Sakurai et al., 1998) described the same hypothalamic neuropeptides, respectively called the hypocretins or orexins, which were discovered using two different approaches. In December of that year, we published the subject of this commentary in the Journal of Neuroscience: a highly detailed anatomical description of the extensive axonal projections of the hypocretin/orexin neurons. Although the function of this system was unknown at the time, a large body of literature today attests that the hypocretin/orexin neuropeptides play important roles in multiple physiological functions, particularly in sleep/wake regulation. Neuroanatomical studies are rarely frontline news, but the citation rate of this paper underscores the critical nature of such basic research. Based in part on this detailed description, the hypocretin/orexin neuropeptides have since been studied in many different areas of neuroscience research, including sleep/wake regulation, feeding, addiction, reward and motivation, anxiety and depression, cardiovascular regulation, pain, migraine, and neuroendocrine regulation, including reproduction. Thus, this paper has had a surprisingly broad impact on neuroscience research, particularly since it was originally rejected by the Journal!

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