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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 Feb;294(2):R344-51. Epub 2007 Nov 21.

Metabolic rhythm abnormalities in mice lacking VIP-VPAC2 signaling.

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  • 1Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK.


The circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) controls endogenous near 24-h physiological and behavioral rhythms in metabolism, neuroendocrine function, and locomotor activity. Recently, we showed that vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and its receptor, VPAC(2) are critical to the intercellular communication between individual SCN neurons, and appropriate synchronization and phasing of these oscillatory cells. Mice defective in VIP signaling manifest grossly impaired circadian rhythms of SCN neuronal firing activity and are typically unable to maintain rhythmic wheel-running behavior in the absence of external time cues. Here we report that daily rhythms of metabolism and feeding behavior are also overtly altered in these animals. Under diurnal conditions (12:12-h light-dark; LD), metabolic and feeding rhythms are advanced in mice lacking either VIP or VPAC(2) receptor expression, peaking in the late day, rather than early night, as observed in wild-type mice. When placed in constant light (LL), both VIP-deficient and VPAC(2) receptor-knockout mice exhibit dampening of metabolic and feeding rhythms, which deteriorate after a few days. In addition, overall metabolic rate is greatly reduced in VPAC(2)-knockout mice, when compared with wild-type mice, regardless of lighting condition. The advancement of metabolic and feeding rhythms in these mice under LD suggests that these rhythms are less sensitive to masking by light. These results demonstrate that altering SCN function not only affects neuronal and wheel-running activity rhythms but also dramatically impairs temporal regulation of metabolism and feeding.

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