In young animals, the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus, which are critical circadian pacemakers, exhibit a light-induced diurnal rhythm in Fos expression. The expression of this immediate-early gene has been used as an index of the activity of the SCN and their ability to respond to external cues that entrain them, such as light. In the present study, we show that by the time rats reach middle age baseline Fos expression increases prematurely during the dark and that light-induced Fos expression is blunted and delayed. We also demonstrate that transplantation of fetal tissue containing the SCN into the third cerebral ventricle of middle-aged rats enables aged hosts to regain the ability to exhibit diurnal patterns of Fos expression that are strikingly similar to those observed in young animals. Our findings lead to the following conclusions: 1) the diurnal pattern of activity of SCN cells is blunted in middle-aged rats, and 2) SCN transplants provide unique signals that enable the cellular systems of the host to regain rhythmic functional capabilities. These results provide new insights into the critical active role that the host plays in restoration of function evoked by the presence of a transplant.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology|
|Issue number||1 41-1|
|State||Published - 1997|
- immediate-early gene
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)