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A recent hypothesis suggests that a major function of sleep is to renormalize synaptic changes that occur during wakefulness as a result of learning processes [G. Tononi, C. Cirelli, Sleep and synaptic homeostasis: a hypothesis, Brain Res. Bull. 62 (2003) 143-150; G. Tononi, C. Cirelli, Sleep function and synaptic homeostasis, Sleep Med. Rev. 10 (2006) 49-62]. Specifically, according to this synaptic homeostasis hypothesis, wakefulness results in a net increase in synaptic strength, while sleep is associated with synaptic downscaling. Since synaptic activity accounts for a large fraction of brain energy metabolism, one of the predictions of the hypothesis is that if synaptic weight increases in the course of wakefulness, cerebral metabolic rates should also increase, while the opposite would happen after a period of sleep. In this study we therefore measured brain metabolic rate during wakefulness and determined whether it was affected by the previous sleep-wake history. Three groups of mice in which behavioral states were determined by visual observation were subjected to 6h of sleep deprivation (SD). Group 1 was injected with 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) 45 min before the end of SD, while Group 2 and Group 3 were injected with 2-DG after an additional period (2-3h) of waking or sleep, respectively. During the 45-min interval between 2-DG injection and sacrifice all mice were kept awake. We found that in mice that slept approximately 2.5h the 2-DG-uptake was globally decreased, on average by 15-20%, compared to the first two groups that were kept awake. On average, Group 2, which stayed awake approximately 2h more than Group 1, showed only a small further increase in 2-DG-uptake relative to Group 1. Moreover, the brain regions in which 2-DG-uptake increased the least when waking was prolonged by approximately 2h showed the most pronounced decrease in DG-uptake after sleep. The data are consistent with the prediction that sleep may reset cerebral metabolic rates to a lower level.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Res Bull

Publication Date





591 - 597


Animals, Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, Deoxyglucose, Male, Mice, Radiography, Sleep, Wakefulness