Visualizing jet lag in the mouse suprachiasmatic nucleus and peripheral circadian timing system

Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Jan;29(1):171-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06534.x. Epub 2008 Nov 21.


Circadian rhythms regulate most physiological processes. Adjustments to circadian time, called phase shifts, are necessary following international travel and on a more frequent basis for individuals who work non-traditional schedules such as rotating shifts. As the disruption that results from frequent phase shifts is deleterious to both animals and humans, we sought to better understand the kinetics of resynchronization of the mouse circadian system to one of the most disruptive phase shifts, a 6-h phase advance. Mice bearing a luciferase reporter gene for mPer2 were subjected to a 6-h advance of the light cycle and molecular rhythms in suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), thymus, spleen, lung and esophagus were measured periodically for 2 weeks following the shift. For the SCN, the master pacemaker in the brain, we employed high-resolution imaging of the brain slice to describe the resynchronization of rhythms in single SCN neurons during adjustment to the new light cycle. We observed significant differences in shifting kinetics among mice, among organs such as the spleen and lung, and importantly among neurons in the SCN. The phase distribution among all Period2-expressing SCN neurons widened on the day following a shift of the light cycle, which was partially due to cells in the ventral SCN exhibiting a larger initial phase shift than cells in the dorsal SCN. There was no clear delineation of ventral and dorsal regions, however, as the SCN appear to have a population of fast-shifting cells whose anatomical distribution is organized in a ventral-dorsal gradient. Full resynchronization of the SCN and peripheral timing system, as measured by a circadian reporter gene, did not occur until after 8 days in the advanced light cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Jet Lag Syndrome / genetics*
  • Jet Lag Syndrome / metabolism
  • Jet Lag Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Kinetics
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / cytology
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Viscera / cytology
  • Viscera / metabolism


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Per2 protein, mouse
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Luciferases