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Neuroscience. 2014 Apr 25;266:197-207. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.02.018. Epub 2014 Feb 26.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus is part of a neural feedback circuit adapting blood pressure response.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biomedicas, UNAM, Mexico.
Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
Department Farmacobiologia, CINVESTAV, México, DF, Mexico.
Instituto de Investigaciones Biomedicas, UNAM, Mexico. Electronic address:


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is typically considered our autonomous clock synchronizing behavior with physiological parameters such as blood pressure (BP), just transmitting time independent of physiology. Yet several studies show that the SCN is involved in the etiology of hypertension. Here, we demonstrate that the SCN is incorporated in a neuronal feedback circuit arising from the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), modulating cardiovascular reactivity. Tracer injections into the SCN of male Wistar rats revealed retrogradely filled neurons in the caudal NTS, where BP information is integrated. These NTS projections to the SCN were shown to be glutamatergic and to terminate in the ventrolateral part of the SCN where light information also enters. BP elevations not only induced increased neuronal activity as measured by c-Fos in the NTS but also in the SCN. Lesioning the caudal NTS prevented this activation. The increase of SCN neuronal activity by hypertensive stimuli suggested involvement of the SCN in counteracting BP elevations. Examining this possibility we observed that elevation of BP, induced by α1-agonist infusion, was more than twice the magnitude in SCN-lesioned animals as compared to in controls, indicating indeed an active involvement of the SCN in short-term BP regulation. We propose that the SCN receives BP information directly from the NTS enabling it to react to hemodynamic perturbations, suggesting the SCN to be part of a homeostatic circuit adapting BP response. We discuss how these findings could explain why lifestyle conditions violating signals of the biological clock may, in the long-term, result in cardiovascular disease.


cardiovascular; circadian rhythm; hypertension; hypothalamus; nucleus tractus solitarius

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