A Serotonin Agonist Phase-shifts the Circadian Clock in the Suprachiasmatic Nuclei In Vitro

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The mammalian circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) receives a large serotonergic (5-HTergic) projection from the raphe nuclei. Whether the SCN pacemaker can be modulated by this afferent projection is a question of considerable theoretical and practical interest. In this study we investigated whether the 5-HT agonist, quipazine, can reset the phase of the SCN clock when it is isolated in vitro. Our results show that 1 h treatments with quipqzine induce robust phase shifts in vitro, and that this effect depends upon the circadain time of treatment. We further show that the ability of quipazine to induce phase shifts is dose-dependent. These results suggest that the SCN circadian pacemaker is sensitive to 5-HTergic stimulation, and therefore that the 5-HTergic projection to the SCN may play a role in modulating the phase of the SCN clock in the intact animal.

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