Aging and photoperiod regulate glutamic acid decarboxylase67 messenger RNA expression

Marilyn J. Duncan, Deborah L. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Aging and short photoperiod exposure both induce similar long-term changes in circadian rhythms, including alterations in the timing and the amplitude of rhythms. Furthermore, these chronic conditions affect the function of the circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) by altering rhythmic expression of neuropeptide messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Because GABA modulates SCN neuronal activity, and GABAergic neurons innervate peptidergic neurons in the SCN, the present study investigated whether photoperiod or aging affect the expression of mRNA for GAD67, the enzyme responsible for regulating the tonic levels of GABA. As a control for regional specificity, the reticular thalamic nucleus (RTN) was also examined. In situ hybridization for GAD67 mRNA was performed on brain sections derived from Siberian hamsters exposed to a long day or a short day photoperiod for 15 days, and on brain sections from young (3-4 months old) and old (12-17 months old) Syrian hamsters exposed to a long photoperiod. The results showed that photoperiod and aging have different effects on GAD67 mRNA expression. Exposure to short day photoperiod significantly increased GAD67 mRNA expression in both the SCN and RTN of Siberian hamsters, while aging significantly decreased GAD67 mRNA expression in the RTN of Syrian hamsters but had no effect on GAD67 mRNA expression in the SCN. These findings suggest that modulation of GAD67 mRNA expression in the SCN is associated with photoperiodic regulation of neuropeptide mRNA expression, but is not a common mechanism for chronic regulation of circadian rhythms. Also, GAD67 mRNA expression in the RTN is differentially affected by photoperiod and aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 25 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grant AG13418.


  • Circadian rhythm
  • In situ hybridization
  • Reticular thalamic nucleus
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus
  • γ-Aminobutyric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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