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Microglia regulate sleep through calcium-dependent modulation of norepinephrine transmission

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Nat Neurosci. 2024 Jan 18. doi: 10.1038/s41593-023-01548-5. Online ahead of print.


Sleep interacts reciprocally with immune system activity, but its specific relationship with microglia-the resident immune cells in the brain-remains poorly understood. Here, we show in mice that microglia can regulate sleep through a mechanism involving Gi-coupled GPCRs, intracellular Ca2+ signaling and suppression of norepinephrine transmission. Chemogenetic activation of microglia Gi signaling strongly promoted sleep, whereas pharmacological blockade of Gi-coupled P2Y12 receptors decreased sleep. Two-photon imaging in the cortex showed that P2Y12-Gi activation elevated microglia intracellular Ca2+, and blockade of this Ca2+ elevation largely abolished the Gi-induced sleep increase. Microglia Ca2+ level also increased at natural wake-to-sleep transitions, caused partly by reduced norepinephrine levels. Furthermore, imaging of norepinephrine with its biosensor in the cortex showed that microglia P2Y12-Gi activation significantly reduced norepinephrine levels, partly by increasing the adenosine concentration. These findings indicate that microglia can regulate sleep through reciprocal interactions with norepinephrine transmission.

PMID:38238430 | DOI:10.1038/s41593-023-01548-5

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