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      Neurophysiology of Sleep and Wakefulness: Basic Science and Clinical Implications

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          Abstract

          Increased attention to the prevalence of excessive sleepiness has led to a clear need to treat this symptom, thus reinforcing the need for a greater understanding of the neurobiology of sleep and wakefulness. Although the physiological mechanisms of sleep and wakefulness are highly interrelated, recent research reveals that there are distinct differences in the active brain processing and the specific neurochemical systems involved in the two states. In this review, we will examine the specific neuronal pathways, transmitters, and receptors composing the ascending arousal system that flow from the brainstem through the thalamus, hypothalamus, and basal forebrain to the cerebral cortex. We will also discuss the mutually inhibitory interaction between the core neuronal components of this arousal system and the sleep-active neurons in the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, which serves as a brainstem-switch, regulating the stability of the sleep-wake states. In addition, we will review the role of homeostatic and circadian processes in the sleep-wake cycle, including the influence of the suprachiasmatic nucleus on coordination of sleep-wake systems. Finally, we will summarize how the above processes are reflected in disorders of sleep and wakefulness, including insomnia, narcolepsy, disorders associated with fragmented sleep, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, and primary neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

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          Most cited references 117

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          Orexins and orexin receptors: a family of hypothalamic neuropeptides and G protein-coupled receptors that regulate feeding behavior.

          The hypothalamus plays a central role in the integrated control of feeding and energy homeostasis. We have identified two novel neuropeptides, both derived from the same precursor by proteolytic processing, that bind and activate two closely related (previously) orphan G protein-coupled receptors. These peptides, termed orexin-A and -B, have no significant structural similarities to known families of regulatory peptides. prepro-orexin mRNA and immunoreactive orexin-A are localized in neurons within and around the lateral and posterior hypothalamus in the adult rat brain. When administered centrally to rats, these peptides stimulate food consumption. prepro-orexin mRNA level is up-regulated upon fasting, suggesting a physiological role for the peptides as mediators in the central feedback mechanism that regulates feeding behavior.
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            The hypocretins: hypothalamus-specific peptides with neuroexcitatory activity.

            We describe a hypothalamus-specific mRNA that encodes preprohypocretin, the putative precursor of a pair of peptides that share substantial amino acid identities with the gut hormone secretin. The hypocretin (Hcrt) protein products are restricted to neuronal cell bodies of the dorsal and lateral hypothalamic areas. The fibers of these neurons are widespread throughout the posterior hypothalamus and project to multiple targets in other areas, including brainstem and thalamus. Hcrt immunoreactivity is associated with large granular vesicles at synapses. One of the Hcrt peptides was excitatory when applied to cultured, synaptically coupled hypothalamic neurons, but not hippocampal neurons. These observations suggest that the hypocretins function within the CNS as neurotransmitters.
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              Restless legs syndrome: diagnostic criteria, special considerations, and epidemiology. A report from the restless legs syndrome diagnosis and epidemiology workshop at the National Institutes of Health.

              Restless legs syndrome is a common yet frequently undiagnosed sensorimotor disorder. In 1995, the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group developed standardized criteria for the diagnosis of restless legs syndrome. Since that time, additional scientific scrutiny and clinical experience have led to a better understanding of the condition. Modification of the criteria is now necessary to better reflect that increased body of knowledge, as well as to clarify slight confusion with the wording of the original criteria. The restless legs syndrome diagnostic criteria and epidemiology workshop at the National Institutes of Health. Members of the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group and authorities on epidemiology and the design of questionnaires and scales. To modify the current criteria for the diagnosis of restless legs syndrome, to develop new criteria for the diagnosis of restless legs syndrome in the cognitively impaired elderly and in children, to create standardized criteria for the identification of augmentation, and to establish consistent questions for use in epidemiology studies. The essential diagnostic criteria for restless legs syndrome were developed and approved by workshop participants and the executive committee of the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group. Criteria were also developed and approved for the additional aforementioned groups.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Curr Neuropharmacol
                CN
                Current Neuropharmacology
                Bentham Science Publishers Ltd
                1570-159X
                1875-6190
                December 2008
                : 6
                : 4
                : 367-378
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Integris Sleep Disorders Center of Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA
                [2 ]Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center, Detroit, MI, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Address correspondence to this author at Integris Southwest and Baptist Medical Centers, 4200 S. Douglas, Suite 313, Oklahoma City, OK 73109, USA; Tel: 1-405-636-1111; E-mail: SchwJR@ 123456integris-health.com
                Article
                CN-6-367
                10.2174/157015908787386050
                2701283
                19587857
                5b50cd1e-d775-4ec9-b22e-e42b37c1b0d0
                ©2008 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/), which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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