Sleep has been hypothesized to rebalance overall synaptic strength after ongoing learning during waking leads to net synaptic potentiation. If so, because synaptic strength and size are correlated, synapses on average should be larger after wake and smaller after sleep. This prediction was recently confirmed in mouse cerebral cortex using serial block-face electron microscopy (SBEM). However, whether these findings extend to other brain regions is unknown. Moreover, sleep deprivation by gentle handling was reported to produce hippocampal spine loss, raising the question of whether synapse size and number are differentially affected by sleep and waking. Here we applied SBEM to measure axon–spine interface (ASI), the contact area between pre-synapse and post-synapse, and synapse density in CA1 stratum radiatum. Adolescent YFP-H mice were studied after 6–8 h of sleep (S = 6), spontaneous wake at night (W = 4) or wake enforced during the day by novelty exposure (EW = 4; males/females balanced). In each animal ≥425 ASIs were measured and synaptic vesicles were counted in ~100 synapses/mouse. Reconstructed dendrites included many small, nonperforated synapses and fewer large, perforated synapses. Relative to S, ASI sizes in perforated synapses shifted toward higher values after W and more so after EW. ASI sizes in nonperforated synapses grew after EW relative to S and W, and so did their density. ASI size correlated with presynaptic vesicle number but the proportion of readily available vesicles decreased after EW, suggesting presynaptic fatigue. Thus, CA1 synapses undergo changes consistent with sleep-dependent synaptic renormalization and their number increases after extended wake.
- electron microscopy