c-Fos expression in the limbic thalamus following thermoregulatory and wake–sleep changes in the rat

Marco Luppi, Matteo Cerri, Alessia Di Cristoforo, Timna Hitrec, Daniela Dentico, Flavia Del Vecchio, Davide Martelli, Emanuele Perez, Domenico Tupone, Giovanni Zamboni, Roberto Amici

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1 Scopus citations


A cellular degeneration of two thalamic nuclei belonging to the “limbic thalamus”, i.e., the anteroventral (AV) and mediodorsal (MD) nuclei, has been shown in patients suffering from Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI), a lethal prion disease characterized by autonomic activation and severe insomnia. To better assess the physiological role of these nuclei in autonomic and sleep regulation, c-Fos expression was measured in rats during a prolonged exposure to low ambient temperature (T a , − 10 °C) and in the first hours of the subsequent recovery period at normal laboratory T a (25 °C). Under this protocol, the thermoregulatory and autonomic activation led to a tonic increase in waking and to a reciprocal depression in sleep occurrence, which was more evident for REM sleep. These effects were followed by a clear REM sleep rebound and by a rebound of Delta power during non-REM sleep in the following recovery period. In the anterior thalamic nuclei, c-Fos expression was (1) larger during the activity rather than the rest period in the baseline; (2) clamped at a level in-between the normal daily variation during cold exposure; (3) not significantly affected during the recovery period in comparison to the time-matched baseline. No significant changes were observed in either the MD or the paraventricular thalamic nucleus, which is also part of the limbic thalamus. The observed changes in the activity of the anterior thalamic nuclei appear, therefore, to be more specifically related to behavioral activation than to autonomic or sleep regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalExperimental Brain Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Autonomic regulation
  • Cold exposure
  • Fatal familial insomnia
  • P-CREB
  • Sleep deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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