Age-related changes in electrophysiological properties of the mouse suprachiasmatic nucleus in vitro

Brain Res Bull. 2005 Mar 15;65(2):149-54. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2004.12.006.


Endogenous biological rhythms are altered at several functional levels during aging. The major pacemaker driving biological rhythms in mammals is the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus. In the present study we used tissue slices from young and old mice to analyze the electrophysiological properties of the retinorecipient ventrolateral part of the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Loose patch and whole-cell recordings were performed during day and night. Both young and old mice displayed a significant variation between day and night in the mean firing rate of suprachiasmatic nucleus neurons. The proportion of cells not firing spontaneous action potentials showed a clear day/night rhythm in young but not in old animals, that had an elevated number of such silent cells during the day compared to young animals. Analysis of firing patterns revealed a more regular spontaneous firing during the day than during the night in the old mice, while there was no difference between day and night in young animals. The frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents was reduced in ventrolateral suprachiasmatic nucleus neurons in the old animals. Since the inhibitory input to these neurons is mainly derived from within the suprachiasmatic nucleus, this reduction most likely reflects the greater proportion of silent cells found in old animals. The results show that the suprachiasmatic nucleus of old mice is subject to marked electrophysiological changes, which may contribute to physiological and behavioral changes associated with aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology