Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 1-7

Parameters of photic resetting of the circadian system of a durnal rodent, the nile grass rat

Refinetti, Roberto

Research on circadian rhythms has been hampered by the lack of a suitable rodent model with diurnal habits. The goal of this study was to characterize the parameters of photic entrainment of the circadian system of the Nile grass rat, a small rodent that can potentially serve as a model for the study of circadian rhythms in diurnal animals. The state of the circadian system was accessed through the rhythm of running-wheel activity and manipulated by photic stimulation (white light). The results indicated that the grass rat exhibits a robust rhythm of running-wheel activity with a mean free-running period of 23.9 hours (range: 23.6 to 24.3 hours). The animal is clearly diurnal and starts activity daily approximately 50 minutes before lights-on under an L12:D12 light-dark cycle. Its photic phase-response curve shows a dead zone during most of subjective day, a phase delay region during early subjective night (maximal delay: 1.5 hours), and a phase advance region during late subjective night (maximal advance: 2.2 hours). When exposed to constant illumination, the grass rat exhibits longer circadian periods as the intensity of illumination increases, with a ceiling between 100 and 1,000 lux. Finally, its range of entrainment extends from at least 23.0 to 25.0 hours (from 22.0 to 25.5 in some animals).

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