The Hypocretin/Orexin Neuronal Networks in Zebrafish

  • Idan Elbaz
  • Talia Levitas-Djerbi
  • Lior AppelbaumEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 33)


The hypothalamic Hypocretin/Orexin (Hcrt) neurons secrete two Hcrt neuropeptides. These neurons and peptides play a major role in the regulation of feeding, sleep wake cycle, reward-seeking, addiction, and stress. Loss of Hcrt neurons causes the sleep disorder narcolepsy. The zebrafish has become an attractive model to study the Hcrt neuronal network because it is a transparent vertebrate that enables simple genetic manipulation, imaging of the structure and function of neuronal circuits in live animals, and high-throughput monitoring of behavioral performance during both day and night. The zebrafish Hcrt network comprises ~16–60 neurons, which similar to mammals, are located in the hypothalamus and widely innervate the brain and spinal cord, and regulate various fundamental behaviors such as feeding, sleep, and wakefulness. Here we review how the zebrafish contributes to the study of the Hcrt neuronal system molecularly, anatomically, physiologically, and pathologically.


Behavior Hypocretin Narcolepsy Orexin Sleep Zebrafish 



This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 690/15), the Legacy Heritage Biomedical Program of the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 992/14), and by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF, grant no. 2011335). IE is supported by the Nehemia Levtzion scholarship from the Council for Higher Education, Israel.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Idan Elbaz
    • 1
  • Talia Levitas-Djerbi
    • 1
  • Lior Appelbaum
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences and The Leslie and Susan Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research CenterBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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