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Chronobiol Int. 2012 Mar;29(2):91-102. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2011.649382.

Neuropeptide Y-induced phase shifts of PER2::LUC rhythms are mediated by long-term suppression of neuronal excitability in a phase-specific manner.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology , University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham, AL 35294-0017, USA.


Endogenous circadian rhythms are entrained to the 24-h light/dark cycle by both light and nonphotic stimuli. During the day, nonphotic stimuli, such as novel wheel-induced exercise, produce large phase advances. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) release from the thalamus onto suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) neurons at least partially mediates this nonphotic signal. The authors examined the hypothesis that NPY-induced phase advances are accompanied by suppression of PER2 and are mediated by long-term depression of neuronal excitability in a phase-specific manner. First, it was found that NPY-induced phase advances in PER2::LUC SCN cultures are largest when NPY (2.35 µM) is given in the early part of the day (circadian time [CT] 0-6). In addition, PER2::LUC levels in NPY-treated (compared to vehicle-treated) samples were suppressed beginning 6-7 h after treatment. Similar NPY application to organotypic Per1::GFP SCN cultures resulted in long-term suppression of spike rate of green fluorescent protein-positive (GFP+) cells when slices were treated with NPY during the early or middle of the day (zeitgeber time [ZT] 2 or 6), but not during the late day (ZT 10). Furthermore, 1-h bath application of NPY to acute SCN brain slices decreased general neuronal activity measured through extracellular recordings. Finally, NPY-induced phase advances of PER2::LUC rhythms were blocked by latent depolarization with 34.5 mM K(+) 3 h after NPY application. These results suggest that NPY-induced phase advances may be mediated by long-term depression of neuronal excitability. This model is consistent with findings in other brain regions that NPY-induced persistent hyperpolarization underlies mechanisms of energy homeostasis, anxiety-related behavior, and thalamocortical synchronous firing.

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