Sleep/wake dependent changes in cortical glucose concentrations


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Chiara Cirelli, or Giulio Tononi, University of Wisconsin/Madison, Department of Psychiatry, 6001 Research Park Blvd, Madison, WI 53719, USA.



Most of the energy in the brain comes from glucose and supports glutamatergic activity. The firing rate of cortical glutamatergic neurons, as well as cortical extracellular glutamate levels, increase with time spent awake and decline throughout non rapid eye movement sleep, raising the question whether glucose levels reflect behavioral state and sleep/wake history. Here chronic (2–3 days) electroencephalographic recordings in the rat cerebral cortex were coupled with fixed-potential amperometry to monitor the extracellular concentration of glucose ([gluc]) on a second-by-second basis across the spontaneous sleep-wake cycle and in response to 3 h of sleep deprivation. [Gluc] progressively increased during non rapid eye movement sleep and declined during rapid eye movement sleep, while during wake an early decline in [gluc] was followed by an increase 8–15 min after awakening. There was a significant time of day effect during the dark phase, when rats are mostly awake, with [gluc] being significantly lower during the last 3–4 h of the night relative to the first 3–4 h. Moreover, the duration of the early phase of [gluc] decline during wake was longer after prolonged wake than after consolidated sleep. Thus, the sleep/wake history may affect the levels of glucose available to the brain upon awakening.