Serotonergic modulation of photic entrainment in the Syrian hamster

Michael A. Rea, Gary E. Pickard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


In this review, we describe six lines of evidence that reveal a modulatory role for serotonin (5-HT) in the regulation of the response of suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) neurons to retinal illumination in the Syrian hamster. Electrical stimulation of the median raphe nucleus, sufficient to elicit the release of 5-HT in the SCN, inhibits light-induced phase shifts of the hamster circadian activity rhythm. Two 5-HT receptors capable of mediating the effects of 5-HT on photic responses, the 5-HT7 receptor and the 5-HT(1B) receptor, are present in the hamster SCN. Light-induced phase shifts are attenuated by systemic and local administration of two 5-HT receptor agonists, 8-OH-DPAT, and TFMPP, and these agents attenuate photic phase shifts by acting on pharmacologically distinct receptors. Furthermore, both compounds also attenuate light-induced Fos expression and photic suppression of pineal melatonin content, indicating that serotonergic modulation of photic signal transduction in the SCN is not limited to the regulation of circadian phase. Finally, both 8-OH-DPAT and TFMPP inhibit RHT neurotransmission in the hypothalamic slice preparation. Further, TFMPP fails to attenuate responses to exogenous glutamate on retinorecipient SCN neurons, consistent with a presynaptic site of action for the drug. Based on these data, we propose that 5-HT modulates RHT neurotransmission in the SCN through at least two distinct mechanisms: (1) via activation of 5-HT7 receptors probably located on retinorecipient neurons; and (2) via activation of presynaptic 5-HT(1B) receptors leading to reduced release of glutamate from RHT terminals in the SCN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-314
Number of pages31
JournalBiological Rhythm Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Circadian phase
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Serotonin
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology (medical)


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