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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Mar;300(3):R519-30. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00599.2010. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Temporal phasing of locomotor activity, heart rate rhythmicity, and core body temperature is disrupted in VIP receptor 2-deficient mice.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Bispebjerg Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Neurons of the brain's biological clock located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) generate circadian rhythms of physiology (core body temperature, hormone secretion, locomotor activity, sleep/wake, and heart rate) with distinct temporal phasing when entrained by the light/dark (LD) cycle. The neuropeptide vasoactive intestinal polypetide (VIP) and its receptor (VPAC2) are highly expressed in the SCN. Recent studies indicate that VIPergic signaling plays an essential role in the maintenance of ongoing circadian rhythmicity by synchronizing SCN cells and by maintaining rhythmicity within individual neurons. To further increase the understanding of the role of VPAC2 signaling in circadian regulation, we implanted telemetric devices and simultaneously measured core body temperature, spontaneous activity, and heart rate in a strain of VPAC2-deficient mice and compared these observations with observations made from mice examined by wheel-running activity. The study demonstrates that VPAC2 signaling is necessary for a functional circadian clock driving locomotor activity, core body temperature, and heart rate rhythmicity, since VPAC2-deficient mice lose the rhythms in all three parameters when placed under constant conditions (of either light or darkness). Furthermore, although 24-h rhythms for three parameters are retained in VPAC2-deficient mice during the LD cycle, the temperature rhythm displays markedly altered time course and profile, rising earlier and peaking ∼4-6 h prior to that of wild-type mice. The use of telemetric devices to measure circadian locomotor activity, temperature, and heart rate, together with the classical determination of circadian rhythms of wheel-running activity, raises questions about how representative wheel-running activity may be of other behavioral parameters, especially when animals have altered circadian phenotype.

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