Central clock excites vasopressin neurons by waking osmosensory afferents during late sleep

Nat Neurosci. 2010 Apr;13(4):467-74. doi: 10.1038/nn.2503. Epub 2010 Feb 28.


Osmoregulated vasopressin release is facilitated during the late sleep period (LSP) to prevent dehydration and enuresis. Previous work has shown that clock neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) have low firing rates during the LSP, but it is not known how this reduced activity enhances vasopressin release. We found that synaptic excitation of rat supraoptic nucleus neurons by osmosensory afferents is facilitated during the LSP. Stimulation of the SCN at this time inhibited excitatory synaptic currents induced in supraoptic neurons by activation of osmosensory afferents. This effect was associated with an increased rate of synaptic failures and occurred without changes in frequency facilitation, quantal size or in the ratio of postsynaptic responses mediated by AMPA and NMDA receptors. We conclude that clock neurons mediate an activity-dependent presynaptic silencing of osmosensory afferent synapses onto vasopressin neurons and that osmoregulatory gain is enhanced by removal of this effect during late sleep.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Supraoptic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Vasopressins / physiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology


  • Vasopressins