GABAA receptor-mediated tonic transmission in sleep-wake cycles


  • Wiesje Pelkmans Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University


Sleep-wake cycles are an important physiological characteristic of the mammalian rain and essential for wellbeing and cognitive performance. In this review, a novel and comprehensive view on the organisation of sleep in the brain is described. Evidence is presented that sleep is regulated in a local manner and is dependent on prior cortical activity. Moreover, the composition, expression, and role of a specific type of GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) inhibitory neurotransmission mediated by extrasynaptic δ-GABAa receptors, known as tonic GABAa transmission, is described. Furthermore, this article reviews findings linking the regulation of sleep to this tonic GABAergic conductance that is observed in the thalamo-cortical circuitry relevant to slow wave sleep. This will contribute to our understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying the contribution of GABAergic tonic transmission to the neural basis of sleep-wake regulation, to ultimately develop more efficient clinical interventions to treat sleep disorders.