The acute light-induction of sleep is mediated by OPN4-based photoreception

Daniela Lupi, Henrik Oster, Stewart Thompson, Russell G. Foster

126 Citations (Scopus)


Sleep is regulated by both homeostatic and circadian mechanisms. The latter, termed 'process c', helps synchronize sleep-wake patterns to the appropriate time of the day. However, in the absence of a circadian clock, overall sleep-wake rhythmicity is preserved and remains synchronized to the external light-dark cycle, indicating that there is an additional, clock-independent photic input to sleep. We found that the direct photic regulation of sleep in mice is predominantly mediated by melanopsin (OPN4)-based photoreception of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (pRGCs). Moreover, OPN4-dependent sleep regulation was correlated with the activation of sleep-promoting neurons in the ventrolateral preoptic area and the superior colliculus. Collectively, our findings describe a previously unknown pathway in sleep regulation and identify the pRGC/OPN4 signaling system as a potentially new pharmacological target for the selective manipulation of sleep and arousal states.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1068-1073
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2008

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


Dive into the research topics of 'The acute light-induction of sleep is mediated by OPN4-based photoreception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this