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Brain Res. 1994 Mar 14;639(2):217-27.

The control of circadian rhythms and the levels of vasoactive intestinal peptide mRNA in the suprachiasmatic nucleus are altered in spontaneously hypertensive rats.

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Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta 30302.


Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) has been localized within the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus (SCN) and appears to play an important role in the entrainment of circadian rhythms with the light-dark (LD) cycle. The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), an inbred strain used extensively in research on primary hypertension, has significantly more VIP mRNA in its brain than normotensive Wistar-Kyoto control (WKY) rats. Because VIP levels are abnormally high in SHR rats the present study examined whether the mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms are also altered in SHR rats. When entrained to a 24 h LD cycle, SHR rats began their wheel-running rhythm approximately 1.5 h earlier than WKY controls. SHR rats re-entrained to a phase delay in the LD cycle more slowly than did WKY rats, but tended to re-entrain to a phase advance more rapidly. The free-running period of SHR rats in both constant light and constant dark was significantly shorter than that of WKY rats. In SHR rats, phase delays produced by 1-h pulses of light were less than one-half the magnitude of the delays seen in WKY rats; however, the phase advances were nearly twice that of WKY rats. Using in situ hybridization, the SCN levels of mRNA encoding VIP were found to be significantly greater in SHR rats, but the mRNA levels of another peptide important for entrainment, gastrin releasing peptide, did not differ between SHR and WKY rats. These data indicate that the mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms in SHR rats differ significantly from those controlling rhythms in WKY rats and that VIP mRNA is significantly elevated within the SCN of SHR rats. The role of VIP in the entrainment of circadian rhythms is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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