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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2014 Mar 15;306(6):R387-93. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00519.2013. Epub 2014 Jan 29.

Phase-dependent resetting of the adrenal clock by ACTH in vitro.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minneapolis.


The adrenal cortex has a molecular clock that generates circadian rhythms in glucocorticoids, yet how the clock is synchronized to the external environment is unknown. Using mPER2::Luciferase (mPER2Luc) knockin mice, in which luciferase is rhythmically expressed under the control of the mouse Per2 clock gene, we hypothesized that ACTH transmits entrainment signals to the adrenal. Adrenal explants were administered ACTH at different phases of the mPER2Luc rhythm. Treatment with ACTH 1-39 produced a phase delay that was phase-dependent, with a maximum at circadian time (CT)18; ACTH did not alter the period or amplitude of the rhythm. Forskolin produced a parallel response, suggesting that the phase delay was cAMP-mediated. The response to ACTH was concentration-dependent and peptide-specific. Pulse administration (60 min) of ACTH 1-39 also produced phase delays restricted to late CTs. In contrast to ACTH 1-39, other ACTH fragments, including α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which do not activate the melanocortin 2 (MC2/ACTH) receptor, had no effect. The finding that ACTH in vitro phase delays the adrenal mPER2luc rhythm in a monophasic fashion argues for ACTH as a key resetter, but not the sole entrainer, of the adrenal clock.


adrenal clock; adrenocorticotropic hormone; nonphotic entrainment

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