Orexin is one of the orexigenic neuropeptides in the hypothalamus. Orexin neurons in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) project into the cerebral cortex and hippocampus in which the receptors are distributed in high concentrations. Therefore, to elucidate the actions of orexin in the cerebral cortex, we examined its effects on the mRNA expressions of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunits (NR1, NR2A, NR2B) and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA) receptor subunits (GluR1, GluR2) following 6-day application of orexin-A or orexin-B to rat primary cortical neuron cultures. The mRNAs of NR1 and NR2A subunits were significantly decreased by orexin-A and orexin-B at concentrations over 0.1 μM and 0.01 μM, respectively. The mRNA expression of NR2B subunit was also significantly decreased by orexin-A and orexin-B only at the concentration of 1 μM. Moreover, orexin-A and orexin-B at concentrations over 0.01 μM significantly decreased the mRNA expressions of AMPA receptor subunits, GluR1 and GluR2. The present study demonstrated that orexins significantly suppressed RNA expressions of NMDA and AMPA receptor subunits in cortical neuron cultures, suggesting that orexin may regulate the higher functions of the cerebral cortex as well as be involved in energy regulation in the hypothalamus.
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