Orexin peptides prevent cataplexy and improve wakefulness in an orexin neuron-ablated model of narcolepsy in mice

Michihiro Mieda, Jon T. Willie, Junko Hara, Christopher M. Sinton, Takeshi Sakurai, Masashi Yanagisawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

293 Scopus citations


Narcolepsy-cataplexy is a neurological disorder associated with the inability to maintain wakefulness and abnormal intrusions of rapid eye movement sleep-related phenomena into wakefulness such as cataplexy. The vast majority of narcoleptic-cataplectic individuals have low or undetectable levels of orexin (hypocretin) neuropeptides in the cerebrospinal fluid, likely due to specific loss of the hypothalamic orexin-producing neurons. Currently available treatments for narcolepsy are only palliative, symptom-oriented pharmacotherapies. Here, we demonstrate rescue of the narcolepsy-cataplexy phenotype of orexin neuron-ablated mice by genetic and pharmacological means. Ectopic expression of a prepro-orexin transgene in the brain completely prevented cataplectic arrests and other abnormalities of rapid eye movement sleep in the absence of endogenous orexin neurons. Central administration of orexin-A acutely suppressed cataplectic behavioral arrests and increased wakefulness for 3 h. These results indicate that orexin neuron-ablated mice retain the ability to respond to orexin neuropeptides and that a temporally regulated and spatially targeted secretion of orexins is not necessary to prevent narcoleptic symptoms. Orexin receptor agonists would be of potential value for treating human narcolepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4649-4654
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 30 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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