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Electrical stimulation of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) evokes sleep-like state transitions under urethane anaesthesia in the rat medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) via dopamine D1-like receptors

Lookup NU author(s): Sabine Gretenkord, Dr Bas OlthofORCiD, Myrto Stylianou, Professor Adrian ReesORCiD, Dr Sasha Gartside, Dr Fiona LeBeau



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The role of dopamine in regulating sleep-state transitions during both natural sleep and under anaesthesia is still unclear. Recording in vivo in the rat mPFC under urethane anesthesia we have observed predominantly slow wave activity (SWA) of <1 Hz in the local field potential interrupted by occasional spontaneous transitions to a low-amplitude-fast (LAF) pattern of activity. During periods of SWA, transitions to LAF activity could be rapidly and consistently evoked by electrical stimulation of the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Both the spontaneous, and VTA stimulation-evoked LAF activity, consisted of fast oscillations similar to those seen in the rapid eye movement (REM)-like sleep state. Spontaneous and VTA stimulation evoked LAF activity occurred simultaneously along the dorso-ventral extent of all mPFC subregions. Evoked LAF activity depended on VTA stimulation current, and could be elicited using either regular (25 - 50 Hz) or burst stimulation patterns, and was reproducible upon repeated stimulations. Simultaneous single unit recordings showed that during SWA presumed pyramidal cells fired phasically, and almost exclusively on the Up-state, while during both spontaneous and VTA-evoked LAF activity they fired tonically. The transition to LAF activity evoked by VTA stimulation depended on dopamine D1-like receptor activation as it was almost completely blocked by systemic administration of the D1-like receptor antagonist SCH23390. Overall our data demonstrate that activation of dopamine D1-like receptors in the mPFC is important for regulating sleep-like state transitions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gretenkord S, Olthof BMJ, Stylianou M, Rees A, Gartside SE, LeBeau FEN

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Neuroscience

Year: 2020

Volume: 52

Issue: 2

Pages: 2915-2930

Print publication date: 01/07/2020

Online publication date: 31/12/2019

Acceptance date: 27/12/2019

Date deposited: 12/03/2020

ISSN (print): 0953-816X

ISSN (electronic): 1460-9568

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/ejn.14665


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