Anatomical and electrophysiological development of the hypothalamic orexin neurons from embryos to neonates

Yukino Ogawa, Takeshi Kanda, Kaspar Vogt, Masashi Yanagisawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The amount, quality, and diurnal pattern of sleep change greatly during development. Developmental changes of sleep/wake architecture are in a close relationship to brain development. The fragmentation of wake episodes is one of the salient features in the neonatal period, which is also observed in mature animals and human individuals lacking neuropeptide orexin/hypocretin signaling. This raises the possibility that developmental changes of lateral hypothalamic orexin neurons are relevant to the development of sleep/wake architecture. However, little information is available on morphological and physiological features of developing orexin neurons. To address the cellular basis for maturation of the sleep/wake regulatory system, we investigated the functional development of orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. The anatomical development as well as the changes in the electrophysiological characteristics of orexin neurons was examined from embryonic to postnatal stages in orexin-EGFP mice. Prepro-orexin promoter activity was detectable at embryonic day (E) 12.0, followed by expression of orexin A after E14.0. The number of orexin neurons and their membrane capacitance reached similar levels to adults by postnatal day (P) 7, while their membrane potentials, firing rates, and action potential waveforms were developed by P21. The hyperpolarizing effect of serotonin, which is a major inhibitory signal for adult orexin neurons, was detected after E18.0 and matured at P1. These results suggest that the expression of orexin peptides precedes the maturation of electrophysiological activity of orexin neurons. The function of orexin neurons gradually matures by 3 weeks after birth, coinciding with maturation of sleep/wake architecture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3809-3820
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Dec 15 2017


  • RRID: AB_10001164
  • RRID: AB_142924
  • RRID: AB_2534095
  • RRID: AB_91545
  • mouse
  • serotonin
  • sleep/wake
  • whole-cell patch clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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