Chronic social stress and the circadian system: Effects on the central clock and peripheral liver oscillator

Ota, S. M., 2019, [Groningen]: University of Groningen. 118 p.

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  • Simone Marie Ota
We humans and other living organisms have a routine of activity and rest, as well as other daily rhythms.
These rhythms, also called circadian (about a day) rhythms, in mammals are under control of a master clock or oscillator situated in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain. The master clock is able to generate a circadian rhythm, coordinate other oscillators present in peripheral tissues, and maintain the rhythms synchronized to the main environmental time cue, the light-dark cycle. Considering this property, we wondered if the SCN and/or other oscillators could be affected by an unpredictable stimulus, such as social stress. In this study, we investigated the effects of chronic social stress in mice on the locomotor activity rhythm, which is controlled by the SCN, and the effects on the expression of a clock protein, related to the generation of the circadian rhythm, in cultures of SCN and liver tissues. The results showed that although locomotor activity is suppressed by social stress, the rhythm per se is not affected. Moreover, the expression of the clock protein was not affected after the stress in the SCN, but it was delayed in the liver cultures. Afterwards, we investigated if corticosterone, a stress hormone, could affect the expression of the clock protein in the same tissues. We observed that the expression of the investigated protein was delayed in liver cultures treated with corticosterone, but not in the SCN cultures. Our findings suggest that the master clock is not affected by chronic social stress, but the oscillator in the liver is, and the mechanism behind may be the elevation of corticosterone. Although the SCN is not disturbed, the desynchrony between the master clock and other oscillators may have consequences for health.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Hut, Roelof, Supervisor
  • Suchecki, Deborah, Supervisor, External person
  • Meerlo, Peter, Co-supervisor
  • Scheurink, Antonius, Assessment committee
  • Gaspar do Amaral, F., Assessment committee, External person
  • Kalsbeek, A., Assessment committee, External person
  • Karatsoreos, I., Assessment committee, External person
Award date24-May-2019
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-1557-4
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-1556-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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