A nonphotic stimulus causes instantaneous phase advances of the light-entrainable circadian oscillator of the Syrian hamster but does not induce the expression of c-fos in the suprachiasmatic nuclei

J Neurosci. 1992 Jul;12(7):2516-22. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.12-07-02516.1992.


The study investigated whether nonphotic cues that alter the phase of overt circadian rhythms do so by causing instantaneous shifts in the underlying, light-sensitive clock. Wheel-running activity in Syrian hamsters was studied under free-running conditions of constant dim red light as an overt marker of circadian phase, the daily onset of activity being defined as circadian time 12 (CT 12). Exposure to a 15 min pulse of bright light at CT 12.20 caused a phase delay in activity onset, whereas pulses delivered at CT 11.20 had no effect upon the overt rhythm. Correlated with their effect on behavior, light pulses delivered at CT 12.20 induced expression of c-fos-like immunoreactivity in the retinorecipient regions of the suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus (SCN), whereas pulses delivered at CT 11.20 had no effect upon the expression of c-fos. Expression of this immediate-early gene therefore provided a second marker of circadian phase, because its induction by light is closely correlated with the onset of subjective night (CT 12). To establish a suitable protocol for nonphotic shifts of the activity rhythm, animals were handled and received a subcutaneous injection of saline at different circadian phases. Injections at CT 8 or CT10 caused an immediate bout of wheel-running activity, and a consequent phase advance in the activity rhythm as assessed by the earlier onsets of activity in successive days. Handling and injections at other circadian phases were without effect. Despite shifting the overt rhythm, these procedures at CT 10 did not lead to the expression of c-fos in the SCN.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Cricetinae
  • Darkness
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, fos*
  • Light
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus / physiology*
  • Motor Activity
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology*