Sleep promoting brain cells identified

Multiple populations of wake-promoting neurons have been characterized in mammals, but few sleep-promoting neurons have been identified. Johns Hopkins Kavli NDI researchers Seth Blackshaw and colleagues have identified specific neurons that regulate sleep by inhibiting the activity of wake-promoting cells.

In their recent study, Hopkins neuroscientists and colleagues reveal that specific inhibitory neurons expressing the LIM homeodomain factor Lhx6 in the zona incerta become more active as sleep need increases, inhibiting the activity of wake-promoting neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. Further exploration of the gene expression networks that drive the development and function of these Lhx6-expressing neurons may identify other factors that are critical to sleep regulation. In addition, characterization of these cells and their circuits could offer novel drug targets to treat sleep disorders, such as insomnia and narcolepsy, caused by the dysfunction of sleep-regulating neurons.

For more on  this study, access the article "Lhx6-positive GABA-releasing neurons of the zona incerta promote sleep" by Liu et al., published in Nature.

Share this page onFacebookTwitter