Changes in the function of neuropeptide synthesizing cells within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the site of the predominant circadian pacemaker, may underlie the disturbance of rhythms observed during ageing. Arginine vasopressin (AVP) is synthesized by nearly one-third of SCN neurones in the rat. This peptide has predominantly excitatory actions within the SCN mediated by V1-type receptors; the extent to which the V1a and/or V1b receptor subtypes are involved in SCN functions remains to be determined. The present study used isotopic in situ hybridization histochemistry to examine the effects of ageing on expression of mRNAs for AVP and V1a in the SCN and for V1b in the SCN and supraoptic nucleus (SON) of male rats kept under a 12 : 12 h light/dark cycle. Analysis of film autoradiographs from young adult (2-3-month-old; n = 40) or aged (19-20-month-old; n = 40) animals, at eight time points across the light/dark cycle, revealed an equivalent pattern and amplitude for the diurnal rhythm of AVP mRNA in the SCN of the young adult and aged groups. Both groups also displayed a significant diurnal rhythm in the expression of V1a receptor mRNA; however, the amplitude of this rhythm was reduced in the aged group, due to increased levels during the light phase and early part of night. Although the expression of V1b mRNA did not display a significant diurnal rhythm within the SCN or SON, persistently elevated levels for V1b mRNA were observed in the aged group at both sites.
- Suprachiasmatic nucleus
- Supraoptic nucleus
- Vasopressin receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience