Serotonin Phase-shifts the Mouse Suprachiasmatic Circadian Clock In Vitro

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The mammalian circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) receives multiple afferent signals that could potentially modulate its phase. One input, the serotonin (5-HT) projection from the raphe nuclei, has been extensively investigated in rats and hamsters, yet its role(s) in modulating circadian clock phase remains controversial. To expand our investigation of 5-HT modulation of the SCN clock, we investigated the phase-shifting effects of 5-HT and its agonist, (+)8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (DPAT), when applied to mouse SCN brain slices. 5-HT induced 2–3 h phase advances when applied during subjective day, while non-significant phase shifts were seen after 5-HT application at other times. These phase shifts were completely blocked by the 5-HT antagonist, metergoline. DPAT also induced phase shifts when applied during mid-subjective day, and this effect appeared dose-dependent. Together, these results demonstrate that the mouse SCN, like that of the rat, is directly sensitive to in vitro phase-resetting by 5-HT.

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