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Front Neuroendocrinol. 1995 Jul;16(3):191-223.

Pharmacological and genetic approaches for the study of circadian rhythms in mammals.

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Department of Neurobiology and Physiology, NSF Science & Technology Center for Biological Timing, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3520, USA.


Two different approaches have been utilized to study the controlling mechanisms that underlie the generation and entrainment of circadian rhythms in mammals. The use of specific drugs to alter the period and/or the phase of circadian rhythms has provided new insights into both the pathways by which environmental information reaches the mammalian circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and the cellular and neurochemical events within the SCN itself which are involved in circadian rhythmicity. A second approach, which seeks to exploit genetic differences in the properties of the circadian system, holds the promise of eventually defining the cellular and molecular events that are part of the clock itself, the events that underlie the entrainment of the circadian clock by environmental factors, and the expression of overt rhythms driven by the clock. It is anticipated that the pharmacological and genetic approaches to the study of circadian rhythms will complement each other as the underlying physiological mechanisms of the circadian clock system become defined.

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