Oct 13, 1999

No evidence of brain cell degeneration after long-term sleep deprivation in rats

Brain Research
Chiara CirelliGiulio Tononi


Sleep deprivation leads to cognitive impairments in humans and, if sustained for 2-3 weeks in rats, it is invariably fatal. It has been suggested that neural activity associated with waking, if it is not interrupted by periods of sleep, may damage brain cells through excitotoxic or oxidative mechanisms and eventually lead to cell death. To determine whether sustained waking causes brain cell degeneration, three parallel strategies were used. The presence and extent of DNA fragmentation was analyzed with the TUNEL technique on brain sections from rats sleep deprived for various periods of time (from 8 h to 14 days) and from their respective controls. Adjacent sections from the same animals were stained with a newly developed fluorochrome (Fluoro-Jade) specific for degenerating neurons. Finally, total RNA from the cerebral cortex of the same animals was used to determine whether the expression of several stress response genes and apoptosis-related genes is modified after sustained waking. In most long-term sleep deprived rats only a few scattered TUNEL positive nuclei (1-3) were found in any given brain section. The overall number, distribution, and morphology of TUNEL positive cells in long-term sleep deprived rats did not diffe...Continue Reading

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  • Citations33
  • References25
  • Citations33


Mentioned in this Paper

Insufficient Sleep Syndrome
Biological Adaptation to Stress
Brain Diseases
Abnormal Degeneration
DNA Fragmentation
Apoptosis, Intrinsic Pathway
Science of Morphology
DNA Degradation, Apoptotic

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Apoptosis is a specific process that leads to programmed cell death through the activation of an evolutionary conserved intracellular pathway leading to pathognomic cellular changes distinct from cellular necrosis