Short-term sleep loss alters cytokine gene expression in brain and peripheral tissues and increases plasma corticosterone of zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Laken N. Cooper, Ila Mishra, Noah T. Ashley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Lack of sleep incurs physiological costs that include increased inflammation and alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Specifically, sleep restriction or deprivation leads to increased pro-inflammatory cytokine expression and elevated glucocorticoids in rodent models, but whether birds exact similar costs is unknown. In this study, we examined whether zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), an avian model species, exhibits physiological costs of sleep loss by using a novel automated sleep frag-mentation/deprivation method, wherein a horizontal wire sweeps across a test cage to disrupt sleep every 120 s. We measured pro-inflammatory (IL-1β and IL-6) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokine gene expression in the periphery (fat, liver, spleen, and heart) and brain (hypothalamus, hippocampus, and apical hyper-pallium) of captive finches after 12 h of exposure to a moving or stationary (control) bar during the night or the day. Plasma corticosterone, body mass, and behavioral profiles were also assessed. We predictedthat birds undergoingsleeploss wouldexhibit elevated pro-inflammatory and reduced anti-inflammatory gene expression in brain and peripheral tissues compared with control birds. In addition, we predicted an increase in plasma corticosterone levels after sleep loss. As predicted, sleep loss increased pro-inflammatory gene expression, specifically in adipose tissue (IL-6), spleen (IL-1), and hippocampus (IL-6), but a decrease in anti-inflammatory expression (IL-10) was not detected. However, sleep loss elevated baseline concentrations of plasma corticosterone. Taken together, these results suggest that a diurnal songbird is sensitive to the costs of sleep loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-91
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.


  • Bird
  • Corticosterone
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin
  • Sleep fragmentation
  • Sleep loss
  • Zebra finch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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