Circadian Rhythms

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus is the site of the endogenous clock controlling circadian rhythms in mammals. Within the SCN, there is a circadian fluctuation in GFAP immunoreactivity distribution, in parallel with energy metabolism, electrical activity, and peptide synthesis, thus implicating astrocytes in the mechanism of the circadian clock. Neurons of the SCN display endogenous circadian oscillations of spike-firing rates in vivo as well as in slice preparations. Propagating waves of increased Ca2+ moving through the astro-cytic network were noted in the isolated SCN following glutamate stimulation; glutamate inputs from retinal ganglion cells to the SCN could be the trigger for Ca2+ waves in these astrocytes in vivo.

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