MicroRNA 138, let-7b, and 125a inhibitors differentially alter sleep and EEG delta-wave activity in rats

Christopher J. Davis, James M. Clinton, James M. Krueger


Sleep deprivation was previously reported to alter microRNA (miRNA) levels in the brain; however, the direct effects of any miRNA on sleep have only been described recently. We determined miRNA 138 (miR-138), miRNA let-7b (let-7b), and miRNA 125a-5p (miR-125a) levels in different brain areas at the transitions between light and dark. In addition, we examined the extent to which inhibiting these miRNAs affects sleep and EEG measures. We report that the levels of multiple miRNAs differ at the end of the sleep-dominant light period vs. the end of the wake-dominant dark period in cortical areas, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. For instance, in multiple regions of the cortex, miR-138, let-7b, and miR-125a expression was higher at the end of the dark period compared with the end of the light period. Intracerebroventricular injection of a specific inhibitor (antiMIR) to miR-138 suppressed sleep and nonrapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) EEG delta power. The antiMIR to let-7b did not affect time in state but decreased NREMS EEG delta power, whereas the antiMIR to miR-125a failed to affect sleep until after 3 days and did not affect EEG delta power on any day. We conclude that miRNAs are uniquely expressed at different times and in different structures in the brain and have discrete effects and varied timings on several sleep phenotypes and therefore, likely play a role in the regulation of sleep.

  • slow-wave activity
  • RNA interference
  • antagomir
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