Indexed on: 15 Jan '02Published on: 15 Jan '02Published in: American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism
We investigated the effects of ablation of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) on corticosterone (CORT) responses to synthetic ACTH given in either the morning or evening. After dexamethasone treatment, evening ACTH injections in intact rats produced a significantly larger increase in plasma CORT compared with morning ones. In rats with SCN lesions, the ACTH-induced CORT secretion was independent of time of day, providing direct evidence for a driving influence of the SCN on the diurnal rhythm of adrenal sensitivity to ACTH. In the absence of dexamethasone treatment, the SCN-lesioned rats were selected for morning-like (ML) or evening-like (EL) basal levels of CORT. Responses to ACTH were not different in ML rats compared with sham-lesioned morning controls. In contrast, EL rats compared with sham-lesioned evening controls showed an approximately 60% decrease in increment of CORT levels within the first 15 min postinjection. These results indicate that the SCN upregulates ACTH sensitivity of the adrenal cortex during the ascending phase of the daily CORT secretion and point to a critical role of glucocorticoids in determining SCN action.