Parafacial Zone
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Parafacial Zone
Parafacial zone
Part of Brainstem (Medulla oblongata)
Acronym(s) PZ
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The parafacial zone (PZ) is a brain structure located within the medulla oblongata which contains GABAergic neurons and is involved in slow-wave sleep.[1][2][3] It is one of several GABAergic sleep-promoting nuclei in the brain, which are also located in the ventrolateral preoptic area of the hypothalamus and in a compartment within the lateral hypothalamus.[2][3]




Selective activation of the GABAergic neurons in the PZ induces cortical slow-wave activity and slow-wave sleep in awake animals.[1]

Clinical significance


  1. ^ a b c Anaclet C, Ferrari L, Arrigoni E, Bass CE, Saper CB, Lu J, Fuller PM (September 2014). "The GABAergic parafacial zone is a medullary slow wave sleep-promoting center". Nat. Neurosci. 17 (9): 1217-1224. doi:10.1038/nn.3789. PMC 4214681 Freely accessible. PMID 25129078. In the present study we show, for the first time, that activation of a delimited node of GABAergic neurons located in the medullary PZ can potently initiate SWS and cortical SWA in behaving animals. ... For now however it remains unclear if the PZ is interconnected with other sleep- and wake-promoting nodes beyond the wake-promoting PB. ... The intensity of cortical slow-wave-activity (SWA: 0.5-4Hz) during SWS is also widely accepted as a reliable indicator of sleep need ... In conclusion, in the present study we demonstrated that all polygraphic and neurobehavioral manifestation of SWS, including SWA, can be initiated in behaving animals by the selective activation of a delimited node of GABAergic medullary neurons. 
  2. ^ a b Schwartz MD, Kilduff TS (December 2015). "The Neurobiology of Sleep and Wakefulness". Psychiatr. Clin. North Am. 38 (4): 615-644. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2015.07.002. PMID 26600100. Sleep is regulated by GABAergic populations in both the preoptic area and the brainstem; increasing evidence suggests a role for the melanin-concentrating hormone cells of the lateral hypothalamus and the parafacial zone of the brainstem 
  3. ^ a b Brown RE, McKenna JT (June 2015). "Turning a Negative into a Positive: Ascending GABAergic Control of Cortical Activation and Arousal". Front. Neurol. 6: 135. doi:10.3389/fneur.2015.00135. PMC 4463930 Freely accessible. PMID 26124745. The sleep-promoting action of GABAergic neurons located in the preoptic hypothalamus (6-8) is now well-known and accepted (9). More recently, other groups of sleep-promoting GABAergic neurons in the lateral hypothalamus (melanin-concentrating hormone neurons) and brainstem [parafacial zone; (10)] have been identified. 

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