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Relationship between CSF hypocretin levels and hypocretin neuronal loss

Gerashchenko D, Murillo-Rodriguez E, Lin L, Xu M, Hallett L, Nishino S, Mignot E, Shiromani PJ (2003) Relationship between CSF hypocretin levels and hypocretin neuronal loss. Neuroscience 2003 Abstracts 616.2. Society for Neuroscience, New Orleans, LA.

Summary: In the sleep disorder narcolepsy there is a massive reduction in the number of neurons containing the neuropeptide, hypocretin (HCRT). Most narcoleptic patients also have low to negligible levels of HCRT in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). However, the relationship between HCRT neurons and HCRT levels is not known, making it difficult for investigators to estimate how many HCRT-containing neurons might be present based on measurements of CSF HCRT levels. A relationship between neuronal loss and CSF levels of the ligand is known in other degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, but not in narcolepsy. To identify this relationship, hypocretin-2-saporin, the neurotoxin that kills hypocretin neurons, or saline were administered to the lateral hypothalamus and CSF was extracted at zeitgeber times (ZT) 0 (time of lights-on) or ZT 8 at various intervals (2, 4, 6, 12, 21, 36, 60 days) after the neurotoxin administration. Compared to saline animals (n=8), rats with an average loss of 73% of HCRT neurons (n=9) had a 50% decline in CSF HCRT levels on day 60. The decline in HCRT levels was evident by day 6 and there was no recovery or further decrease. The decline in HCRT was correlated with increased REM sleep. Rats with an average loss of 14.4% of HCRT neurons (n=4) showed no significant decline in CSF HCRT levels compared to saline rats. In rats with 73% loss of HCRT neurons, the HCRT levels were not substantially increased by 6h prolonged wakefulness indicating that surviving neurons were not able to increase the output of HCRT to compensate for the HCRT neuronal loss. From these data we conclude that since most narcoleptics have more than 80% reduction of CSF HCRT that in these patients most HCRT neurons are lost.

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