Hung CJ, Ono D, Kilduff TS, and Yamanaka A. Dual orexin and MCH neuron-ablated mice display severe sleep attacks and cataplexy. eLife 9:e54275.
Orexin/hypocretin-producing and melanin-concentrating hormone-producing (MCH) neurons are co-extensive in the hypothalamus and project throughout the brain to regulate sleep/wakefulness. Ablation of orexin neurons decreases wakefulness and results in a narcolepsy-like phenotype, whereas ablation of MCH neurons increases wakefulness. Since it is unclear how orexin and MCH neurons interact to regulate sleep/wakefulness, we generated transgenic mice in which both orexin and MCH neurons could be ablated. Double-ablated mice exhibited increased wakefulness and decreased both rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM) sleep. Double-ablated mice showed severe cataplexy compared with orexin neuron-ablated mice, suggesting that MCH neurons normally suppress cataplexy. Double-ablated mice also showed frequent sleep attacks with elevated spectral power in the delta and theta range, a unique state that we call ‘delta-theta sleep’. Together, these results indicate a functional interaction between orexin and MCH neurons in vivo that suggests the synergistic involvement of these neuronal populations in the sleep/wakefulness cycle.