Gradual reappearance of post-hibernation circadian rhythmicity correlates with numbers of vasopressin-containing neurons in the suprachiasmatic nuclei of European ground squirrels

R.A Hut, E.A van der Zee, K Jansen, M.P. Gerkema, S. Daan

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Abstract

European ground squirrels (Spermophilus citellus) in outside enclosures show suppressed circadian rhythmicity in body temperature patterns during the first days of euthermia after hibernation. This may reflect either gradual reappearance of circadian rhythmicity following suppressed functioning of the circadian system during hibernation, or it may reflect transient days during re-entrainment of the circadian system which, during hibernation, has drifted out of phase with the environmental light-dark cycle. Here we report that animals kept under continuous dim light conditions also showed absence of circadian rhythmicity in activity and body temperature in the first 5-15 days after hibernation. After post-hibernation arrhythmicity, spontaneous circadian rhythms re-appeared gradually and increased daily body temperature range. Numbers of arginine-vasopressin immunoreactive neurons in the suprachiasmatic nuclei correlated positively with individual circadian rhythmicity and increased gradually over time after hibernation. Furthermore, circadian rhythmicity was enhanced rather than suppressed after exposure to a light-dark cycle but not after a single 1-h light pulse (1,700 lux). The results support the view that the functioning of the circadian system in the European ground squirrel is suppressed during hibernation at low temperatures and that it requires several days of euthermia to resume its summer function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of comparative physiology b-Biochemical systemic and environmental physiology
Volume172
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2002

Keywords

  • hibernation
  • post-hibernation arrhythmicity
  • circadian system
  • SCN
  • AVP
  • VASOACTIVE INTESTINAL POLYPEPTIDE
  • SPERMOPHILUS-CITELLUS
  • IMMUNOREACTIVE CELLS
  • CRICETUS-CRICETUS
  • BODY-TEMPERATURE
  • ADULT VOLES
  • TETRODOTOXIN
  • PACEMAKER
  • BEHAVIOR
  • TORPOR

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