Muscle Activity During Sleep in Human Subjects, Rats, and Mice: Towards Translational Models of Rem Sleep Without Atonia

A Silvani, R Ferri, V Lo Martire, S Bastianini, C Berteotti, A Salvadè, G Plazzi, M Zucconi, L Ferini-Strambi, CL Bassetti, Mauro Manconi, Giovanna Zoccoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objectives: rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep without atonia (RSWA) is a marker of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and is common in narcolepsy. Available techniques for electromyogram (EMG) analysis are species-specific, limiting translational research on RSWA. We developed an automated technique based on distributions of normalized EMG values (DNE) to overcome this limitation. With DNE, we tested whether the control of neck and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles during sleep in wild-type rats and mice validly models the control of submentalis (chin) and TA muscles in healthy humans. We then applied DNE to REM sleep recordings of patients with idiopathic RBD and of mouse models of narcolepsy, testing for a common DNE signature of RSWA. Methods: retrospective analysis of sleep recordings from 20 idiopathic RBD patients, 34 control subjects, 8 wild-type rats, 21 orexin-neuron deficient mice, 8 orexin knock-out mice, and 22 wild-type mice. Results: neck EMG of rats and mice and human chin EMG progressively decreased from wakefulness to non-REM sleep and REM sleep, whereas the effects of sleep on TA EMG differed between rats, mice, and humans. DNE discriminated idiopathic RBD patients from controls based on higher median values of normalized chin EMG during REM sleep. The same parameter, computed on neck muscle EMG, discriminated narcoleptic mice from wild-type mice. Conclusions: these results support the application of DNE in translational research on RSWA. Increased median values of normalized EMG of chin (humans) and neck (rats and mice) muscles may be a signature of RSWA in different species and pathological conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberzsx029
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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