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Neuroscience. 1996 Nov;75(2):635-41.

Circadian rhythm of neuronal activity in suprachiasmatic nucleus slices from the vasopressin-deficient Brattleboro rat.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Bristol, U.K.


In vitro extracellular recordings were made from tissue slices of suprachiasmatic nucleus from homozygous Brattleboro rats which are deficient in vasopressin. A high proportion (56%) of neurons were excited by application of exogenous vasopressin, indicating that the V1 receptors expressed by these neurons were functional. Basal activity of these vasopressin-sensitive neurons showed a marked circadian variation (higher during the subjective light phase) while vasopressin-insensitive neurons showed no significant variation, suggesting the presence of the V1 receptor identifies a population of highly circadian neurons. Suprachiasmatic neurons from both homozygous rats and their heterozygous (vasopressin-containing) litter mates displayed a circadian rhythm of spontaneous (basal) activity, with firing rates declining during the subjective dark phase, indicating that the endogenous pacemaker driving the circadian rhythm was not dependent upon the presence of vasopressin. However, the peak of spontaneous activity displayed during the subjective light phase was significantly lower in the vasopressin-deficient animals. These data show that the presence of endogenous vasopressin within the suprachiasmatic nucleus is not necessary for the generation of the circadian pattern of activity. However, vasopressin does function to amplify the rhythm by its excitatory effect during the light phase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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