The suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) have been identified as a pacemaker for many circadian rhythms in mammals. Although substance P (SP) fibers from retina are found to terminate the SCN, the physiological role of this peptide is uncertain. The 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) uptake and firing activity in the SCN show a robust circadian change. SP causes an increase in 2-DG uptake by SCN during the subjective night but not during subjective day. SP-induced increase in 2-DG uptake is blocked by co-treatment with the SP receptor antagonist, spantide. Treatment with SP produces phase shifts of circadian rhythm in spontaneous neural activity in SCN neurons with a phase-response curve that is similar to the effect of light pulses to animals under constant darkness. SP-induced phase change is also blocked by pretreatment with spantide. SP-induced increase in 2-DG uptake and phase changes in firing activity occur only during subjective night, at circadian times when photic phase shifting of activity occurs. The present results suggest that SP may be an important trr for conveying environmental light-dark information from retina to the SCN.
ASJC Scopus subject areas