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Neurosci Lett. 1997 Jan 31;222(2):99-102.

Loss of day-night differences in VIP mRNA levels in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of aged rats.

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Department of Psychiatry, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan.


Age-related decreases in circadian oscillating activity are speculated to be one of the causes of psychiatric symptoms. To explore the effects of aging on vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) synthesis in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), we investigated the changes in VIP mRNA levels in aged rats compared with young-adult rats under a light/dark cycle using in situ hybridization combined with microcomputer-based imaging analysis. In the young-adult rats, total signals of VIP mRNA in the light-phase showed a significant decrease compared with those on the dark-phase. The VIP signal level in the aged rats was markedly lower than that in young-adults in both light and dark phases. Moreover, in the aged rats, there were no significant differences in VIP mRNA level between the light and dark phases. These results suggest that gene expression of VIP neurons, a main component of the circadian oscillating system, becomes disturbed in the aged rat brain.

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