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Role of norepinephrine in the regulation of rapid eye movement sleep

Abstract

Sleep and wakefulness are instinctive behaviours that are present across the animal species. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a unique biological phenomenon expressed during sleep. It evolved about 300 million years ago and is noticed in the more evolved animal species. Although it has been objectively identified in its present characteristic form about half a century ago, the mechanics of how REM is generated, and what happens upon its loss are not known. Nevertheless, extensive research has shown that norepinephrine plays a crucial role in its regulation. The present knowledge that has been reviewed in this manuscript suggests that neurons in the brain stem are responsible for controlling this state and presence of excess norepinephrine in the brain does not allow its generation. Furthermore, REM sleep loss increases levels of norepinephrine in the brain that affects several factors including an increase in Na-K ATPase activity. It has been argued that such increased norepinephrine is ultimately responsible for REM sleep deprivation, associated disturbances in at least some of the physiological conditions leading to alteration in behavioural expression and settling into pathological conditions.

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Abbreviations

EEG:

Electroencephalogram

EMG:

electromyogram

LC:

locus coeruleus

NE:

norepinephrine

PGO:

pontogeniculooccipital

REM:

rapid eye movement

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Mallick, B.N., Majumdar, S., Faisal, M. et al. Role of norepinephrine in the regulation of rapid eye movement sleep. J. Biosci. 27, 539–551 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02705052

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Keywords

  • Acetylcholine
  • GABA
  • locus coeruleus
  • norepinephrine
  • REM sleep generation
  • REM sleep function