Arousal-State Dependent Alterations in VTA-GABAergic Neural Activity

Eban-Rothschild, Ada, Borniger, Jeremy C., Rothschild, Gideon, Giardino, William J., Morrow, Joshua G., de Lecea, Luis (2019) Arousal-State Dependent Alterations in VTA-GABAergic Neural Activity. bioRxiv.

DOI: 10.1101/770313


Decades of research have implicated the ventral tegmental area (VTA) in motivation, reinforcement learning and reward processing. We and others recently demonstrated that it also serves as an important node in sleep/wake circuitry. Specifically, VTA-dopaminergic neuron activation is sufficient to drive wakefulness and necessary for the maintenance of wakefulness. However, the role of VTA gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-expressing neurons in arousal regulation is not fully understood. It is still unclear whether VTA-GABAergic neurons predictably alter their firing properties across arousal states, what is the nature of interactions between VTA-GABAergic activity and cortical neural oscillations, and how activity in VTA-GABAergic neurons relates to VTA-dopaminergic neurons in the context of sleep/wake regulation. To address these questions, we simultaneously recorded population activity from VTA-GABAergic or VTA-dopaminergic neurons and EEG/EMG signals during spontaneous sleep/wake states and in the presence of salient stimuli in freely-behaving male mice. We observed that VTA-GABAergic neurons exhibit robust arousal-state-dependent alterations in population activity, with high activity and calcium transients during wakefulness and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep compared to non-REM (NREM) sleep. During wakefulness, population activity of VTA-GABAergic neurons, but not VTA-dopaminergic neurons, was positively correlated with EEG gamma power and negatively correlated with EEG theta power. During NREM sleep, population activity in both VTA-GABAergic and VTA-dopaminergic neurons negatively correlated with delta, theta, and sigma EEG power bands. Salient stimuli, with both positive and negative valence, activated VTA-GABAergic neurons. The strongest activation was observed for social stimuli irrespective of valence. Together, our data indicate that VTA-GABAergic neurons, like their dopaminergic counterparts, drastically alter their activity across sleep-wake states. Changes in their activity predicts cortical oscillatory patterns reflected in the EEG, which are distinct from EEG spectra associated with dopaminergic neural activity.Statement of Significance Little is known about how ventral tegmental area (VTA) neural ensembles couple arousal to motivated behaviors. Using cell-type specific genetic tools, we investigated the population activity of GABAergic and dopaminergic neurons within the VTA across sleep/wake states and in the presence of salient stimuli. We demonstrate that coordinated neural activity within VTA-GABAergic neurons peaks during wakefulness and REM sleep. Furthermore, neuronal activity in VTA-GABAergic neurons is correlated with high frequency, low amplitude cortical oscillations during waking, but negatively correlated with high amplitude slower frequency oscillations during NREM sleep. Our results demonstrate that VTA-GABAergic neuronal activity is tightly linked to cortical arousal and highlight this population as a potential important node in sleep/wake regulation.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: bioinformatics > genomics and proteomics > small molecules > GABA
organism description > animal behavior > REM sleep
bioinformatics > genomics and proteomics > genetics & nucleic acid processing > protein structure, function, modification > protein types > dopamine
organs, tissues, organelles, cell types and functions > tissues types and functions > neural networks
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Borniger lab
Depositing User: Adrian Gomez
Date: 2019
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2020 15:27
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2020 15:27
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