James M. Krueger

James M. Krueger

Regents Professor

Room: SPBS 247
Phone: (509)-358-7808



Post-doctoral Studies in Biochemistry, Harvard Medical School, Boston
Ph.D. in Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Bachelor of Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Honorary Degrees

Doctorem Medicinae Honoris Causa, University of Szeged, Hungary


NIH Fellowship, the Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania


Krueger received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin, his doctorate in physiology from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Doctorem Medicinae Honoris Causa from the University of Szeged. From 1974-78 he served as a research fellow and then an instructor in the Harvard Medical School Departments of Physiology and Biochemistry, and from 1978-81 he was a research associate in Physiology.  In 1981, he joined the Chicago Medical School Department of Physiology and Biophysics. He was an associate and full professor from 1985-97 at the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Tennessee. He joined WSU in 1997, and in 2007 was named a WSU Regents Professor. In 2010, Krueger received designation as Eminent Professor, the highest award given to WSU faculty. In 2012, he was named the WSU Honors College Faculty Thesis Advisor of the Year and elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences.

Sleep Research

Dr. Krueger’s research is focused on the biochemical regulation of sleep.  He has described how many hormones and immune regulators are involved in physiological sleep regulation. These substances, and their corresponding mRNAs and protein levels, vary in brain with the sleep-wake cycle and are affected by sleep deprivation.  If injected into animals, these substances increase sleep.  Conversely, if they are inhibited, sleep is inhibited, and the sleep rebound after sleep deprivation is also blocked.  These substances include cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Cytokines are a group of small proteins involved in the immune response and inflammation regulation as well as brain plasticity and sleep.  In brain, they are synthesized in neurons in response to neuronal activity.  Collectively, his work led to a description of a molecular sleep homeostat.

Dr. Krueger’s research also is concerned with sleep and infectious diseases.  Although known for millennia, e.g., Hippocrates proposed that sleep benefits recovery from illness, Dr. Krueger and his collaborator, Dr. Linda Toth, provided the first measures of sleep over the course of infections.  Dr. Krueger went on to show that bacterial, protozoan, fungal and viral infectious agents greatly alter sleep.  His work determined how the presence of microbes is translated into sleep responses.  Thus, bacterial cell wall-peptidoglycan is digested by macrophages, releasing somnogenic muramyl peptides (these are the monomeric building blocks of bacterial cell walls).  Muramyl peptides in turn induce enhanced production of cytokines which in turn promote sleep.  With virus infections, viral double-stranded RNA enhances cytokine release and thereby sleep. 

Dr. Krueger has proposed a new view of the brain organization of sleep.  He hypothesized that small neuronal/glial networks are the organizational level at which sleep is initiated and that local sleep is dependent upon prior activity within the local network.  Thus, active glia and neurons increase expression of cytokines that in turn drive increases in sleep locally.  Individual cortical columns (these are the functional units of the cerebral cortex) alternate between sleep- and wake-like states.  The cortical column sleep-like state correlates with organism sleep, and it is induced by cytokines.  In vitro mature co-cultures of neurons/glia have a default sleep-like state.  If electrically stimulated, or stimulated with wake-promoting substances, the cultures wake up.  In contrast, if treated with cytokines the cultures, go into a deeper sleep-like state.  Finally, if cells from mice lacking a key molecule involved in interleukin-1 signaling are cultured, the ontological emergence of sleep-like states is delayed.  These data demonstrate that sleep is an emergent property of any viable network of neurons and glia whether found with a living animal or in a culture dish.  The concept of sleep as a fundamental process of small networks driven by cell activity triggered a paradigm shift within the sleep research community.

Sample Peer Reviewed Research (in chronological order)

Google Scholar Citations for James M. Krueger: citations 23,815; H-Index 87 (24 August 2021)

Krueger JM, Pappenheimer JR, Karnovsky ML.  (1982)  Sleep-promoting effects of muramyl peptides.  Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 79: 6102-6106.  This was the first demonstration of a microbial product inducing sleep.  We also first showed that lipopolysaccharides and influenza viral double stranded RNA induce sleep responses.  Excess sleep is now considered part of the acute phase response and sleep disorders are recognized as being associated with inflammation.  Altered sleep is also a symptom of long-COVID. We identified the microbial components responsible for sleep responses.

Krueger JM, Walter J, Dinarello CA, Wolff SM, Chedid L.  (1984)  Sleep-promoting effects of endogenous pyrogen (interleukin-1).  Am J Physiol 246: R994-R999.  This was the first report of any cytokine inducing sleep.  We also first reported the somnogenic properties of TNF and other cytokines and neurotrophins.  TNF is the best characterized SRS varying in pathological conditions associated with sleepiness or excess sleep.  Many labs confirmed our work (Am J Physiol 275:R509, 1998) in this area, (Science 294;2511, 2001) (Nature Neurosci 10;1160, 2007).

Toth LA, Krueger JM.  (1988)  Alteration of sleep in rabbits by Staphylococcus aureus infection.  Infect Immun 56: 1785-1791.  This was the first report quantifying changes in sleep over the course of an infectious disease.  There was a gap of 2400 years from Hippocrates mentioning of sleep changes during illness and our measurements.  There are now many reports relating sleep and some aspect of the immune response, e.g. sleep loss reduces antibody titers after inoculations.

Krueger JM, Obál F Jr.  (1993)  A neuronal group theory of sleep function.  J Sleep Res 2: 63-69.  This was the first statement of the hypothesis that sleep is a local use-dependent process.

Hansen MK, Taishi P, Chen Z, Krueger JM.  (1998)  Vagotomy blocks the induction of interleukin-1b mRNA in the brain of rats in response to systemic interleukin-1b.  J Neurosci 18: 2247-2253. This was the first demonstration that systemic IL1-induction of brain IL1 mRNA was mediated by the vagus nerve.

Churchill L, Rector DM, Yasuda K, Fix C, Rojas MJ, Yasuda T, Hall SJ, Guan X, Krueger JM. (2008)  Tumor necrosis factor a: activity dependent expression and promotion of cortical column sleep in rats.  Neuroscience 156:71-80.  This was the first demonstration that a sleep regulatory substance can induce a sleep-like state within single cortical columns thereby showing SRS involvement in the local sleep process.  In this article we also show that neuronal TNF immune-reactivity is enhanced by afferent activity suggesting that afferent activity enhances SRS expression that in turn induces local state oscillations.

Krueger JM, Rector DM, Roy S, Van Dongen HPA,  Belenky G, Panksepp J. (2008) Sleep as a fundamental property of neuronal assemblies.  Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9:910-919.  This is a modern update of our 1993 theory on local use-dependent sleep.  This article also presents the ATP-cytokine-adenosine hypothesis for the first time.

Szentirmai É, Kapás L, Sun Y, Smith RG, Krueger JM.  (2009) The preproghrelin gene is required for normal integration of thermoregulation and sleep in mice.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:14069-14074.  This work extended our demonstration that growth hormone releasing hormone is a SRS and it links metabolism to sleep.  It is particularly sensational in that we showed that the lack of one gene produced mice capable of reversibly dropping their body temperatures to ambient temperature.

Krueger JM, Taishi P, De A, Davis C, Winters BD, Clinton J, Szentirmai E, Zielinski MR.  (2010) ATP and the purine type 2 X7 receptor affect sleep. Jour. Appl. Physiol. 109:1318-1327.  This is the first demonstration that extracellular ATP plays a crucial role in sleep regulation.  ATP released from neurons and glia as a consequence of cell activity serves to translate cell activity into a sleep regulatory signal by its induction of cytokine release via a purine type 2 receptor, the P2X7 receptor.

Taishi P, Davis CJ, Bayomy O, Zielinski MR, Liao F, Clinton JM, Smith DE, Krueger JM. Brain –specific interleukin-1 receptor accessory protein in sleep regulation. (2012) J. Appl. Physiol. 112:1015-102.  We show that this IL1 receptor accessory protein is involved in sleep regulation.  It was previously shown to play a role in synaptogenesis.

Krueger JM, Huang Y, Rector DM, Buysee, DJ.  (2013) Sleep: A synchrony of cell activity-driven small network states. European J. Neuroscience 38:2199-2209.  We show that correct learned responses are dependent upon the sleep or wake state of a single somatosensory cortical column.  If the cortical column is in the sleep-like state errors are made.

Davis CJ, Dunbrasky D, Oonk M, Taishi P, Opp MR, Krueger JM. (2014) The neuron-specific interleukin-1 receptor accessory protein is required for homeostatic sleep and sleep responses to influenza viral challenge in mice.  Brain Behav. Immunity 47:35-43.  We show that mice lacking the brain-specific interleukin 1 receptor accessory protein (AcPb) sleep less, not more like wild type mice, after sleep deprivation.  Further, in response to influenza virus challenge the mice lacking the brain-specific AcPb have higher morbidity and mortality rates, including a lack of non-rem sleep responses.

Jewett KA, Taishi P, Sengupta P, Roy S, Davis CJ, Krueger, JM. (2015) Tumor necrosis factor enhances the sleep-like state and electrical stimulation induces a wake-like state in co-cultures of neurons and glia. European J. Neurosci. 42:2078-2090. We show that small cultured neuronal/glial networks show sleep homeostasis if kept in a wake-like state for prolonged periods and that a deeper sleep-like state is induced in these small networks by TNF application.

Nguyen J, Gibbons CM, Dykstra-Aiello C, Ellingsen R, Koh KMS, Taishi, P, Krueger JM. (2019).  Interleukin-1 receptor accessory proteins are required for normal homeostatic responses to sleep deprivation.  Jour. Appl. Physiology.127:770-780.  There are 3 forms of the IL1 receptor accessory protein; one of them (AcPb) is neuron-specific.  We show that AcPb is required for sleep rebound to occur after sleep deprivation.

Nguyen JT, Sahabandu D, Taishi P, Xue M, Jewett K, Dykstra-Aiello C, Roy S, Krueger JM. (2019).  The neuron-specific interleukin-1 receptor accessory protein alters emergent network state properties in vitro. Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms 6:35-43.  This paper extends the AcPb-sleep work to neuronal/glial tissue cultures by showing that cells derived from mice lacking AcPb have altered sleep and wake states and their development is delayed.

Oles V., Koh KMS, Dykstra-Aiello CJ, Gibbons CM, Nguyen JT, Karatsoreos I, Panchenko A, Krueger JM. (2020) Sleep- and time of day-linked RNA transcript expression in wild-type and IL1 receptor accessory protein null mice.  Jour. Applied Physiology 128:1506 – 1522.  This paper presents a new way to visualize gene pair expression correlations and how they vary with time of day and sleep loss.

Krueger JM. Sleep and Circadian Rhythms; Evolutionary Entanglement and Local Regulation. (2020) Neurobiol. Sleep and Circadian Rhythms 9; 100052. A major point of this paper is that circadian rhythms in evolution originate with single cell organisms whereas sleep requires a small neuronal/glia network to manifest.

Dykstra-Aiello, Koh KMS, Nguyen J, Xue M, Roy S, Krueger JM.  A wake-like state in vitro induced by transmembrane TNF/soluble TNF reverse signaling. (2021) Brain Behav. Immunity 94:245-258.  We describe how the TNF family of molecules can induce either wake- or sleep-like states in vitro depending upon whether the transmembrane form of TNF is acting as the receptor for the soluble form of the TNF receptor, or if more conventional signaling, the soluble TNF form is the ligand binding to the transmembrane TNF receptor, prevails sleep ensues. 

Recent Brief Reviews

Krueger JM, Frank M, Wisor J, Roy, S. (2016). Sleep function: Toward elucidating an enigma. Sleep Medicine Reviews 28:42-50.  This article discusses the major theories of sleep function.  We conclude that sleep has multiple functions, but the sleep brain plasticity function is the only one requiring alternate forms of consciousness because during sleep one is altering circuits that have adaptive purpose during wake states.

Krueger JM, Nguyen JT, Dykstra-Aiello C, Taishi T.  (2019) Local Sleep.  Sleep Med. Rev. 43;14-21.  This review summarizes all the evidence accumulated from our first presentation of the local sleep theory in 1993 until 2019.  The proposition that sleep is initiated at the local neuronal network level as a consequence of cell activity within the network has been tested in multiple ways and is now strongly supported.

Partial List of Krueger Published Work in My Bibliography:  


Honors and Awards

2021 – NIH Workshop – Honorary Remarks – Research Directions in Sleep, Circadian Biology, and COVID-19
2020 – W.M. Keck Foundation Award
2016 – Keynote Speaker, Australasian Sleep Research Society, Adelaide, Australia
2014 – Keynote Speaker, European Sleep Research Society, Tallinn, Estonia
2012 – Washington State Academy of Sciences (elected 2012)
2012 – Honors College Faculty Thesis Advisor of the Year, Washington State University
2010 – Eminent Faculty Award, Washington State University
2006 – Pfizer Lectureship in Sleep, University of Michigan
2006 – Distinguished Scientist Award, Sleep Research Society
2006 – W. M. Keck Foundation Award
2005 – Doctorem Medicinae Honoris Causa, University of Szeged, Hungary
2003 – Pfizer Award for Research Excellence, Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
2001 – Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research, Washington State University
2000 – Neuroscience Grass Traveling Scientist, Jackson, Mississippi
1999 – Visiting Professor, Nanjing Medical University, Jiangsu Province, China
1997-2004 – NIH/NINDS: Javits Award
1995-1996 – President of Faculty Senate, University of Tennessee-Memphis
1990 – Honorary Award, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan
1984 – Taniguchi Fellow, Kyoto, Japan
1983 – Board of Trustees Research Award, Chicago Medical School
1978-1979 – American Heart Association Career Investigator Fellow