The suprachiasmatic nucleus is the site of the primary circadian pacemaker in mammals. The lower sub paraventricular zone that is dorsal to and receives input from the suprachiasmatic nucleus may also play a role in the regulation of circadian rhythms. Calbindin has been described in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of some mammals, and may be important in the control of endogenous rhythms. In the first study we characterized calbindin-expressing cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and lower sub-paraventricular zone of nocturnal and diurnal rodents. Specifically, Rattus norvegicus was compared to Arvicanthis niloticus, a primarily diurnal species within which some individuals exhibit nocturnal patterns of wheel running. Calbindin-immunoreactive cells were present in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of Arvicanthis and were most concentrated within its central region but were relatively sparse in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of Rattus. Calbindin-expressing cells were present in the lower sub-paraventricular zone of both species. In the second study we evaluated Fos expression within calbindin-immunoreactive cells in nocturnal Rattus and in Arvicanthis that were either diurnal or nocturnal with respect to wheel-running. All animals were kept on a 12:12 light/dark cycle and perfused at either 4h after lights-on or 4h after lights-off. In the suprachiasmatic nucleus in both species, Fos expression was elevated during the day relative to the night but less than 1% of calbindin cells contained Fos in Arvicanthis, compared with 13-17% in Rattus. In the lower sub-paraventricular zone of both species, 9-14% of calbindin cells expressed Fos, and this proportion did not change as a function of time. Among Arvicanthis, the number of calbindin expressing neurons in the lower sub-paraventricular zone was influenced by an interaction between the wheel running patterns (nocturnal vs diurnal) and time of day. Thus, the number of calbindin-positive cells within the suprachiasmatic nucleus differed in Arvicanthis and Rattus, whereas the number of calbindin-positive cells within the lower sub-paraventricular zone differed in nocturnal and diurnal Arvicanthis.Our examination of R. norvegicus and A. niloticus suggests potentially important relationships between calbindin-containing neurons and whether animals are nocturnal or diurnal. Specifically, rats had more Fos expression in calbindin containing cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus than Arvicanthis. In contrast, Arvicanthis exhibiting diurnal and nocturnal patterns of wheel-running differed in the number of calbindin-containing cells in the lower sub-paraventricular zone, dorsal to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Copyright (C) 2000 IBRO.
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