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J Neurosci. 1984 Jul;4(7):1677-82.

The suprachiasmatic nuclei of the fetal rat: characterization of a functional circadian clock using 14C-labeled deoxyglucose.


The circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) was characterized in the fetal rat by using 14C-labeled deoxyglucose to monitor glucose utilization (metabolic activity) of the nuclei. A clear day-night oscillation of metabolic activity was detectable in the fetal SCN from the 19th through the 21st days of gestation; the nuclei were metabolically active during the subjective day and metabolically inactive during the subjective night. During the subjective day on gestational day 21, the fetal SCN were found to manifest high metabolic activity for most of the subjective day. We were able to acutely dissociate SCN metabolic activity in the mother rat from that in the fetus by exposing the pregnant animals to light during the normal dark period of diurnal lighting on gestational day 20. The results show the utility of the deoxyglucose method for directly investigating prenatally the function of the biological clock located in the SCN.

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