Circadian rhythms are strongly affected by drugs. In rodents, chronic methamphetamine (METH) intake changes circadian activity rhythms, mainly by altering light synchronization that generates the expression of a free-running rhythm with a period longer than 24 h and a second behavioral component that is independent of the main suprachiasmatic (SCN) clock. Although a number of clock genes do not appear to be involved in the effects of METH on circadian behavior, the molecular clockwork controlling these changes is still unclear. Therefore, we investigated the role of the clock gene Rev-Erbα in METH-induced behavioral and molecular responses using knockout mice and their wild-type littermates. Chronic intake of METH alters period circadian behavior of wild-type mice. However, in mice lacking the clock gene Rev-Erbα METH had no effect on their behavioral rhythms. Furthermore, PER2 bioluminescence rhythms in two extra-SCN brain oscillators, the dorsomedial hypothalamus and the habenula, were altered by METH in wild type but not in KO mice. Together, the present results implicate Rev-Erbα in the modulation of the circadian responses to METH and may provide a better comprehension into the mechanisms underlying circadian alterations provoked by drug addiction.
Keywords: Circadian; Dorsomedial hypothalamus; Habenula; Methamphetamine; Rev-Erbα; Suprachiasmatic.