2018 Volume 41 Issue 12 Pages 1859-1865
The lateral hypothalamic area contains neurons expressing neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), in addition to orexin neurons. Here we examined whether the activity of orexin neurons was regulated by endogenous nitric oxide (NO) in male C57BL/6 mice. Caffeine (30 mg/kg, intraperitoneally (i.p.)) increased the number of orexin neurons positive for c-Fos, a marker of neuronal activity, and also increased the number of NOS/c-Fos-positive cells as identified by reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) diaphorase histochemistry and c-Fos immunohistochemistry. Diphenhydramine hydrochloride (10 mg/kg. i.p.) decreased c-Fos-positive orexin neurons but had no significant effect on the number of c-Fos-positive NOS neurons. nNOS inhibitor 7-nitroindazole (25 mg/kg, i.p.) alone increased c-Fos-positive orexin neurons, and combined treatment with caffeine and 7-nitroindazole did not show additive effect in the number of c-Fos-positive orexin neurons. In contrast, 7-nitroindazole decreased c-Fos-positive NOS neurons and attenuated caffeine-induced increase in c-Fos-positive NOS neurons. Sleep deprivation increased c-Fos-positive cells in both orexin neurons and NOS neurons, and 7-nitroindazole did not show additive effect with sleep deprivation in the activation of orexin neurons. Together, these results suggest that endogenous NO negatively regulates the activity of a subset of orexin neurons, and this subset of orexin neurons overlaps with that activated by awakening stimuli.