Optogenetic sleep enhancement improves fear-associated memory processing following trauma exposure in rats

Sleep disturbances are commonly found in trauma-exposed populations. Additionally, trauma exposure results in fear-associated memory impairments. Given the interactions of sleep with learning and memory, we hypothesized that increasing sleep duration following trauma exposure would restore overall function and improve trauma-induced fear-associated memory dysfunction. Here, we utilized single prolonged stress, a validated rodent model of post-traumatic stress disorder, in combination with optogenetic activation of hypothalamic melanin-concentrating hormone containing cells to increase sleep duration.


The goal of this work was to ascertain if post-trauma sleep increases are sufficient to improve fear-associated memory function. In our laboratory, optogenetic stimulation after trauma exposure was sufficient to increase REM sleep duration during both the Light and Dark Phase, whereas NREM sleep duration was only increased during the Dark Phase of the circadian day. Interestingly though, animals that received optogenetic stimulation showed significantly improved fear-associated memory processing compared to non-stimulated controls. These results suggest that sleep therapeutics immediately following trauma exposure may be beneficial and that post-trauma sleep needs to be further examined in the context of the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.


Christopher J. Davis & William M. Vanderheyden | 2020
In: Scientific Reports ; ISSN: 2045-2322 | 10 | oktober | 18025
Open Access
Exposure, Fear, Genetics, Memory, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Sleep Treatment