Canine narcolepsy is a unique experimental model of a human sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. There is a consensus recognition of an imbalance between cholinergic and catecholaminergic systems in narcolepsy although the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Possible substrates could be an abnormal organization, numbers and/or ratio of cholinergic to catecholaminergic cells in the brain of narcoleptic dogs. Therefore, we sought to characterize the corresponding neuronal populations in normal and narcoleptic dogs (Doberman Pinscher) by using choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), and dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH). Cholinergic cell groups were found in an area extending from the central to the gigantocellular tegmental field and the periventricular gray corresponding to the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT), the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus (LDT), and the parabrachial nucleus. An almost perfect co-localization of ChAT and NADPH-diaphorase was also observed. Catecholaminergic cell groups detected included the ventral tegmental area, the substantia nigra, and the locus coeruleus nucleus (LC). The anatomical distribution of catecholaminergic neurons was unusual in the dog in two important aspects: i) TH- and/or DBH-immunoreactive neurons of the LC were found almost exclusively in the reticular formation and not within the periventricular gray, ii) very few, if any TH-positive neurons were found in the central gray and dorsal raphe. Quantitative analysis did not reveal any significant differences in the organization and the number of cells identified in the LDT, PPT, and LC of normal and narcoleptic dogs. Moreover, the cholinergic to catecholaminergic ratio was found identical in the two groups. In conclusion, the present results do not support the hypothesis that the neurochemical imbalance in narcolepsy could result from abnormal organization, numbers, or ratio of the corresponding neuronal populations.
View details for Web of Science ID A1997WL65800002
View details for PubMedID 9050784