Serotonin and its cerebral receptors play an important role in sleep-wake regulation. The aim of the current study is to investigate the effect of 24-h total sleep deprivation on the apparent serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) binding capacity in the human brain to test the hypothesis that sleep deprivation induces global molecular alterations in the cortical serotonergic receptor system.
Volunteers were tested twice with the subtype-selective radiotracer [18F]altanserin and positron emission tomography (PET) for imaging of 5-HT2ARs at baseline and after 24 h of sleep deprivation. [18F]Altanserin binding potentials were analyzed in 13 neocortical regions of interest. The efficacy of sleep deprivation was assessed by questionnaires, waking electroencephalography, and cognitive performance measurements.
Sleep laboratory and neuroimaging center.
Patients or Participants:
Eighteen healthy volunteers.
Measurements and Results:
A total of 24 hours of sleep deprivation led to a 9.6% increase of [18F]altanserin binding on neocortical 5-HT2A receptors. Significant region-specific increases were found in the medial inferior frontal gyrus, insula, and anterior cingulate, parietal, sensomotoric, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices.
This study demonstrates that a single night of total sleep deprivation causes significant increases of 5-HT2AR binding potentials in a variety of cortical regions although the increase declines as sleep deprivation continued. It provides in vivo evidence that total sleep deprivation induces adaptive processes in the serotonergic system of the human brain.
Elmenhorst D; Kroll T; Matusch A; Bauer A. Sleep Deprivation Increases Cerebral Serotonin 2A Receptor Binding in Humans. SLEEP 2012;35(12):1615-1623.