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Behav Brain Res. 2014 Mar 15;261:146-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.12.010. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Circadian arrhythmia dysregulates emotional behaviors in aged Siberian hamsters.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; Committee on Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
  • 3School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53705, USA.
  • 4Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK.


Emotional behaviors are influenced by the circadian timing system. Circadian disruptions are associated with depressive-like symptoms in clinical and preclinical populations. Circadian rhythm robustness declines markedly with aging and may contribute to susceptibility to emotional dysregulation in aged individuals. The present experiments used a model of chronic circadian arrhythmia generated noninvasively, via a series of circadian-disruptive light treatments, to investigate interactions between circadian desynchrony and aging on depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors, and on limbic neuroinflammatory gene expression that has been linked with emotionality. We also examined whether a social manipulation (group housing) would attenuate effects of arrhythmia on emotionality. In aged (14-18 months of age) male Siberian hamsters, circadian arrhythmia increased behavioral despair and decreased social motivation, but decreased exploratory anxiety. These effects were not evident in younger (5-9 months of age) hamsters. Social housing (3-5 hamsters/cage) abolished the effects of circadian arrhythmia on emotionality. Circadian arrhythmia alone was without effect on hippocampal or cortical interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (Ido) mRNA expression in aged hamsters, but social housing decreased hippocampal IL-1β and Ido mRNAs. The data demonstrate that circadian disruption can negatively impact affective state, and that this effect is pronounced in older individuals. Although clear associations between circadian arrhythmia and constitutive limbic proinflammatory activity were not evident, the present data suggest that social housing markedly inhibits constitutive hippocampal IL-1β and Ido activity, which may contribute to the ameliorating effects of social housing on a number of emotional behaviors.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Affective state; Emotionality; IL-1β; Neuroinflammation; Social

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