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Processing of photic information within the intergeniculate leaflet of the lateral geniculate body: Assessed by neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of rats



Processing of photic information within the intergeniculate leaflet of the lateral geniculate body: Assessed by neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of rats



Neuroscience 56(4): 813-822



Entrainment of the circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus is accomplished by two neural pathways, the retinohypothalamic and geniculohypothalamic tracts. The geniculohypothalamic tract, which originates from the intergeniculate leaflet and a portion of the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus, is composed of fibers immunoreactive to neuropeptide Y. To assess the processing of photic information by the geniculohypothalamic tract, neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of rats kept under various external lighting conditions was determined by enzyme immunoassay of micropunched tissues. Neuropeptide Y levels in the suprachiasmatic nucleus steadily increased when rats were exposed to continuous light and reached a peak in 2 h before returning to basal level. The amount of increase did not depend on intensity and duration of light exposure. A light pulse as short as 5 min elicited a similar rise in neuropeptide Y, indicating that the response is due to the sudden transition from dark to light. This response, however, was only observed when the dark to light transition occurred at circadian time 0 (subjective dawn) of the pacemaker. A light pulse at circadian time 0, which effectively induces the increase in neuropeptide Y level, does not significantly shift the phase of the circadian rhythm. This observation indicates that the photic pathway utilizing neuropeptide Y may be functional only when the endogenous circadian rhythm is synchronized to external light and dark cycles. Administration of an excitatory amino acid antagonist (MK-801) blocked the increase of neuropeptide Y by light, while an agonist (N-methyl-D-aspartate) induced similar facilitatory effects to that of light on the neuropeptide Y level in the rat suprachiasmatic nucleus. These results suggest that the geniculohypothalamic tract processes photic information so as to facilitate distinction of the transition between light and darkness that occurs either at subjective dawn or dusk.

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Accession: 009248720

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PMID: 8284035

DOI: 10.1016/0306-4522(93)90129-4


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