Estradiol replacement enhances sleep deprivation-induced c-Fos immunoreactivity in forebrain arousal regions of ovariectomized rats.Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2008; 295(4):R1328-40AJ
To understand how female sex hormones influence homeostatic mechanisms of sleep, we studied the effects of estradiol (E(2)) replacement on c-Fos immunoreactivity in sleep/wake-regulatory brain areas after sleep deprivation (SD) in ovariectomized rats. Adult rats were ovariectomized and implanted subcutaneously with capsules containing 17beta-E(2) (10.5 microg; to mimic diestrous E(2) levels) or oil. After 2 wk, animals with E(2) capsules received a single subcutaneous injection of 17beta-E(2) (10 microg/kg; to achieve proestrous E(2) levels) or oil; control animals with oil capsules received an oil injection. Twenty-four hours later, animals were either left undisturbed or sleep deprived by "gentle handling" for 6 h during the early light phase, and killed. E(2) treatment increased serum E(2) levels and uterus weights dose dependently, while attenuating body weight gain. Regardless of hormonal conditions, SD increased c-Fos immunoreactivity in all four arousal-promoting areas and four limbic and neuroendocrine nuclei studied, whereas it decreased c-Fos labeling in the sleep-promoting ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO). Low and high E(2) treatments enhanced the SD-induced c-Fos immunoreactivity in the laterodorsal subnucleus of the bed nucleus of stria terminalis and the tuberomammillary nucleus, and in orexin-containing hypothalamic neurons, with no effect on the basal forebrain and locus coeruleus. The high E(2) treatment decreased c-Fos labeling in the VLPO under nondeprived conditions. These results indicate that E(2) replacement modulates SD-induced or spontaneous c-Fos expression in sleep/wake-regulatory and limbic forebrain nuclei. These modulatory effects of E(2) replacement on neuronal activity may be, in part, responsible for E(2)'s influence on sleep/wake behavior.