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Open Access Research

Proteomic changes in rat hippocampus and adrenals following short-term sleep deprivation

Jean-Etienne Poirrier12, François Guillonneau3, Jenny Renaut4, Kjell Sergeant4, Andre Luxen2, Pierre Maquet2 and Pierre Leprince1*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liege, CHU B36, Avenue de l'Hopital 1, B – 4000 Liege, Belgium

2 Cyclotron Research Center, University of Liege, B30, Allee du 6 Aout 8, B-4000 Liege, Belgium

3 Laboratory of Mass spectrometry, University of Liege, B6c, Allee de la Chimie 3, B-4000 Liege, Belgium

4 Centre de Recherche Public-Gabriel Lippmann, Department Environment and Agrobiotechnologies, Rue du Brill 41, L-4422 Belvaux, Luxembourg

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Proteome Science 2008, 6:14  doi:10.1186/1477-5956-6-14

Published: 22 May 2008



To identify the biochemical changes induced by sleep deprivation at a proteomic level, we compared the hippocampal proteome of rats either after 4 hours of sleep or sleep deprivation obtained by gentle handling. Because sleep deprivation might induce some stress, we also analyzed proteomic changes in rat adrenals in the same conditions. After sleep deprivation, proteins from both tissues were extracted and subjected to 2D-DIGE analysis followed by protein identification through mass spectrometry and database search.


In the hippocampus, 87 spots showed significant variation between sleep and sleep deprivation, with more proteins showing higher abundance in the latter case. Of these, 16 proteins were present in sufficient amount for a sequencing attempt and among the 12 identified proteins, inferred affected cellular functions include cell metabolism, energy pathways, transport and vesicle trafficking, cytoskeleton and protein processing. Although we did not observe classical, macroscopic effect of stress in sleep-deprived rats, 47 protein spots showed significant variation in adrenal tissue between sleep and sleep deprivation, with more proteins showing higher abundance following sleep. Of these, 16 proteins were also present in sufficient amount for a sequencing attempt and among the 13 identified proteins, the most relevant cellular function that was affected was cell metabolism.


At a proteomic level, short term sleep deprivation is characterized by a higher expression of some proteins in the hippocampus and a lower abundance of other proteins in the adrenals (compared to normal sleep control). Altogether, this could indicate a general activation of a number of cellular mechanisms involved in the maintenance of wakefulness and in increased energy expenditure during sleep deprivation. These findings are relevant to suggested functions of sleep like energy repletion and the restoration of molecular stocks or a more global homeostasis of synaptic processes.