Circadian rhythms in isolated brain regions

Michikazu Abe, Erik D. Herzog, Shin Yamazaki, Marty Straume, Hajime Tei, Yoshiyuki Sakaki, Michael Menaker, Gene D. Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

525 Scopus citations


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the mammalian hypothalamus has been referred to as the master circadian pacemaker that drives daily rhythms in behavior and physiology. There is, however, evidence for extra-SCN circadian oscillators. Neural tissues cultured from rats carrying the Per-luciferase transgene were used to monitor the intrinsic Per1 expression patterns in different brain areas and their response to changes in the light cycle. Although many Per-expressing brain areas were arrhythmic in culture, 14 of the 27 areas examined were rhythmic. The pineal and pituitary glands both expressed rhythms that persisted for >3 d in vitro, with peak expression during the subjective night. Nuclei in the olfactory bulb and the ventral hypothalamus expressed rhythmicity with peak expression at night, whereas other brain areas were either weakly rhythmic and peaked at night, or arrhythmic. After a 6 hr advance or delay in the light cycle, the pineal, paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, and arcuate nucleus each adjusted the phase of their rhythmicity with different kinetics. Together, these results indicate that the brain contains multiple, damped circadian oscillators outside the SCN. The phasing of these oscillators to one another may play a critical role in coordinating brain activity and its adjustment to changes in the light cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-356
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Arcuate nucleus
  • Entrainment
  • Jet lag
  • Luciferase
  • Olfactory bulb
  • Per
  • Pineal
  • Pituitary
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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