Neurobiology of Sleep Lab, University of Belgrade

Institute for Biological Res - Sinisa Stankovic

Jasna Saponjic
Research Professor
Despot Stefan Blvd. 142
+381 11 2078426
+381 11 2761433
Research Domain
  • Basic Animal
  • Neurological Sleep Disorders
  • Behavioural Sleep Disorders
  • Biological Rhythms
  • Sleep Physiology-Neurophysiology in Animal

Laboratory description

Our current research focuses on the neurobiology of sleep and sleep-related breathing in the animal models “in vivo” of healthy aging and neuropathology of the most common neurodegenerative diseases of elderly (Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), different types of dementia), aimed to give a new insight into understanding of normal and abnormal sleep, the mechanisms of sleep related behavioural disorders, particularly sleep apnea syndrome, and to identify the neural networks responsible for modifying the regulation of sleep and breathing pattern in different sleep/wake states.

Since underlying pathology of AD and PD involves the selective loss of specific neuronal population, an important role of the cholinergic system in their etiology, and the ascending pattern of neurodegeneration progression, from REM sleep-related brainstem regulatory structures to basal areas of the brain, in our research we use the rat models of unilateral or bilateral lesion of the nucleus basalis (NB; the main cortical cholinergic nucleus), and nucleus pedunculopontine tegmentum, (PPT; the main cholinergic nucleus of the brainstem – pons) as the experimental models of brain functionally distinct cholinergic neuropathology.

We follow the severity and progression of disorder caused by neurodegenerative process by electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG): by the changes of sleep/wake states and NREM/REM cycling, EEG rhythms or EEG oscillations. We correlate all changes within EEG with the changes in breathing pattern using the methods of linear and nonlinear analysis to estimate the onset, progression, and severity of the disorder. We believe that EEG potentially presents a rich source of still unrevealed information related to functional, physiological, and pathological status of the brain. Developing the new methods for EEG processing and modelling will significantly contribute in understanding the mechanisms of sleep regulation, detection of disease related sleep and sleep-related breathing disorders, and in estimation of the neurodegenerative disease progression.

Complementary studies in the animal models of human neurodegenerative pathology will highly enrich the development of practical, sensitive and reliable methodology for early detection of the sleep behavioural disordered patients, who are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, or for the prevention and alteration of approaches for therapy.

Key Publications of the Laboratory:
Saponjic J., Petrovic J., Kalauzi A., Ciric J., Lazic K., Radulovacki M., Carley D.W. Sleep-state related EEG amplitude distribution in the rat model of cortical cholinergic innervation disorder. Sleep & Biological Rhythms, 2013, 11, 105-115.

Petrovic J., Ciric J., Lazic K., Kalauzi A., Saponjic J. Lesion of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus in rat augments cortical activation and disturbs sleep/wake state transitions structure. Experimental Neurology, 2013, 247, 562-571.

Petrovic J., Lazic K., Ciric J., Kalauzi A., Saponjic J. Topography of the sleep/wake states related EEG microstructure and transitions structure differentiates the functionally distinct cholinergic innervation disorders in rat. Behavioural Brain Research, 2013, 256, 108-118.

Petrovic J., Lazic K., Kalauzi A., Saponjic J. REM sleep diversity following the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus lesion in rat. Behavioural Brain Research, 2014, 271, 258–268.

Ciric J, Lazic K, Petrovic J, Kalauzi A, Saponjic J. Aging induced cortical drive alterations during sleep in rats. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 2015, 146, 12-22.

Lazic K., Petrovic J., Ciric J., Kalauzi A., Saponjic J. Impact of anesthetic regimen on the respiratory pattern, EEG microstructure and sleep in the rat model of cholinergic Parkinson disease neuropathology, Neuroscience, 2015, 304, 1-13.