A nodal point for brain-state transitions: the mesopontine tegmental anesthesia area (MPTA) in mice

Shai lee Yatziv, Noga Strumza, Anne Minert, Mark Baron, Marshall Devor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mesopontine tegmental anesthesia area (MPTA) was identified in rats as a singular brainstem locus at which microinjection of minute quantities of GABAergic agents rapidly and reversibly induces loss-of-consciousness and a state of general anesthesia, while lesioning renders animals insensitive to anesthetics at normal systemic doses. Obtaining similar results in mice has been challenging, however, slowing research progress on how anesthetics trigger brain-state transitions. We have identified roadblocks that impeded translation from rat to mouse and tentatively located the MPTA equivalent in this second species. We describe here a series of modifications to the rat protocol that allowed us to document pro-anesthetic changes in mice following localized stereotactic delivery of minute quantities (20 nL) of the GABAA-receptor agonist muscimol into the brainstem mesopontine tegmentum. The optimal locus identified proved to be homologous to the MPTA in rats, and local neuronal populations in rats and mice were similar in size and shape. This outcome should facilitate application of the many innovative gene-based methodologies available primarily in mice to the study of how activity in brainstem MPTA neurons brings about anesthetic loss-of-consciousness and permits pain-free surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3255-3266
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Anesthesia
  • Brainstem
  • Isoflurane
  • MPTA
  • Mesopontine tegmentum
  • Microinjection
  • Sleep
  • Species difference

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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