To determine the respective role played by orexin/hypocretin and histamine (HA) neurons in maintaining wakefulness (W), we characterized the behavioral and sleep-wake phenotypes of orexin (Ox) knock-out (-/-) mice and compared them with those of histidine-decarboxylase (HDC, HA-synthesizing enzyme)-/- mice. While both mouse strains displayed sleep fragmentation and increased paradoxical sleep (PS), they presented a number of marked differences: (1) the PS increase in HDC-/- mice was seen during lightness, whereas that in Ox-/-mice occurred during darkness; (2) contrary to HDC-/-, Ox-/-mice had no W deficiency around lights-off, nor an abnormal EEG and responded to a new environment with increased W; (3) only Ox-/-, but not HDC-/-mice, displayed narcolepsy and deficient W when faced with motor challenge. Thus, when placed on a wheel, wild-type (WT), but not littermate Ox-/- mice, voluntarily spent their time in turning it and as a result, remained highly awake; this was accompanied by dense c-fos expression in many areas of their brains, including Ox neurons in the dorsolateral hypothalamus. The W and motor deficiency of Ox-/- mice was due to the absence of Ox because intraventricular dosing of orexin-A restored their W amount and motor performance whereas SB-334867 (Ox1-receptor antagonist, i.p.) impaired Wand locomotion of WT mice during the test. These data indicate that Ox, but not HA, promotes W through enhanced locomotion and suggest that HA and Ox neurons exert a distinct, but complementary and synergistic control of W: the neuropeptide being more involved in its behavioral aspects, whereas the amine is mainly responsible for its qualitative cognitive aspects and cortical EEG activation.
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