Differential sleep/wake response and sex differences following acute suvorexant, MK-1064 and zolpidem administration in the rTg4510 mouse model of tauopathy

Ryan J. Keenan, Heather Daykin, Jiahui Chu, Linda Cornthwaite-Duncan, Giancarlo Allocca, Daniel Hoyer, Laura H. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: Transgenic mouse models of tauopathy display prominent sleep/wake disturbances which manifest primarily as a hyperarousal phenotype during the active phase, suggesting that tau pathology contributes to sleep/wake changes. However, no study has yet investigated the effect of sleep-promoting compounds in these models. Such information has implications for the use of hypnotics as potential therapeutic tools in tauopathy-related disorders. Experimental Approach: This study examined polysomnographic recordings in 6-6.5-month-old male and female rTg4510 mice following acute administration of suvorexant (50 mg·kg−1), MK-1064 (30 mg·kg−1) or zolpidem (10 mg·kg−1), administered at the commencement of the active phase. Key Results: Suvorexant, a dual OX receptor antagonist, promoted REM sleep in rTg4510 mice, without affecting wake or NREM sleep. MK-1064, a selective OX2 receptor antagonist, reduced wake and increased NREM and total sleep time. MK-1064 normalised the hyperarousal phenotype of male rTg4510 mice, whereas female rTg4510 mice exhibited a more transient response. Zolpidem, a GABAA receptor positive allosteric modulator, decreased wake and increased NREM sleep in both male and female rTg4510 mice. Of the three compounds, the OX2 receptor antagonist MK-1064 promoted and normalised physiologically normal sleep, especially in male rTg4510 mice. Conclusions and Implications: Our findings indicate that hyperphosphorylated tau accumulation and associated hyperarousal does not significantly alter the responses of tauopathy mouse models to hypnotics. However, the sex differences observed in the sleep/wake response of rTg4510 mice to MK-1064, but not suvorexant or zolpidem, raise questions about therapeutic implications for the use of OX2 receptor antagonists in human neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3403-3417
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • MK-1064
  • orexin receptor
  • rTg4510
  • sleep
  • suvorexant
  • tau
  • zolpidem

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