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J Biol Rhythms. 2011 Apr;26(2):160-70. doi: 10.1177/0748730410395732.

Circadian clock gene expression in brain regions of Alzheimer 's disease patients and control subjects.

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Laboratory of Molecular Chronobiology, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, 6875 LaSalle Blvd., Montreal (QC) H4H 1R3 Canada.


Circadian oscillators have been observed throughout the rodent brain. In the human brain, rhythmic expression of clock genes has been reported only in the pineal gland, and little is known about their expression in other regions. The investigators sought to determine whether clock gene expression could be detected and whether it varies as a function of time of day in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and cingulate cortex, areas known to be involved in decision making and motivated behaviors, as well as in the pineal gland, in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and aged controls. Relative expression levels of PERIOD1 (PER1 ), PERIOD2 (PER2), and Brain and muscle Arnt-like protein-1 (BMAL1) were detected by quantitative PCR in all 3 brain regions. A harmonic regression model revealed significant 24-h rhythms of PER1 in the BNST of AD subjects. A significant rhythm of PER2 was found in the cingulate cortex and BNST of control subjects and in all 3 regions of AD patients. In controls, BMAL1 did not show a diurnal rhythm in the cingulate cortex but significantly varied with time of death in the pineal and BNST and in all 3 regions for AD patients. Notable differences in the phase of clock gene rhythms and phase relationships between genes and regions were observed in the brains of AD compared to those of controls. These results indicate the presence of multiple circadian oscillators in the human brain and suggest altered synchronization among these oscillators in the brain of AD patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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