Restricted Daytime Feeding Modifies Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Vasopressin Release in Rats

  • Kalsbeek A
  • Van Heerikhuize J
  • Wortel J
 et al. 
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The authors have shown previously that vasopressin (VP) release from suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) efferents in rats is important for the timing of the circadian activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, resulting in a circadian rise in corticosterone at dusk. When meals are supplied at a fixed time during the light period, however, this normal circadian activity of the HPA axis is strongly modified. Under such a restricted feeding regimen, a corticosterone peak appears just before the daily meal in addition to the circadian corticosterone peak at dusk. This feeding-associated rise in corticosterone is regarded as an SCN-independent circadian rhythm because it is sustained in SCN-lesioned animals. Despite these previous results, the authors investigated a putative involvement of SCN-derived VP in the control of the prefeeding corticosterone peak by measuring the intranuclear release of VP in the SCN and plasma corticosterone levels in rats in ad libitum feeding conditions as well as in animals that were obliged to feed during a 2-h period in the middle of the light period. Restricted daytime feeding caused clear changes in the daily release pattern of VP from SCN terminals. Both a delayed onset of the diurnal rise and a premature decline of the elevated daytime levels were observed, but the acrophase of the VP rhythm was not phase shifted. Concerning the circadian corticosterone peak, no phase shift of its acrophase was observed either. It is concluded that (1) restricted daytime feeding does affect SCN activity, (2) intranuclear release of VP within the SCN is an important mechanism to amplify and synchronize the circadian rhythms as dictated by the light/dark-entrained circadian pacemaker, and (3) VP release observed in animals on restricted feeding is completely compatible with the previously proposed inhibitory action of SCN-derived VP on the HPA axis.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Circadian
  • Corticosterone
  • Feeding
  • Microdialysis
  • SCN

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