Public Release: 

These carbon dioxide-sensing neurons wake up mice

Findings could help improve understanding of obstructive sleep apnea, sudden infant death syndrome and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy

Society for Neuroscience

Stimulating a population of neurons in the midbrain with carbon dioxide (CO2) awakens adult male mice without enhancing breathing, finds a study published in JNeurosci. These findings are relevant to understanding disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, sudden infant death syndrome and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Rising levels of CO2 trigger the drive to breathe, and cause arousal from sleep. Disorders that interfere with this important signal can disrupt sleep and, in some cases, lead to death. The mechanism by which CO2 causes arousal from sleep -- a reflex critical to survival -- is not well understood.

Gordon Buchanan and colleagues demonstrate that activation of serotonin neurons in the midbrain dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) with CO2-saturated, artificial cerebrospinal fluid woke up sleeping mice. Activation of similar neurons in the medulla, on the other hand, increased breathing but did not wake the mice up. The study identifies a direct pathway through which CO2 induces arousal independent of changes in breathing.


Article: Dorsal raphe serotonin neurons mediate CO2- induced arousal from sleep

Corresponding author:

Gordon Buchanan
University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Iowa City, USA

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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