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Circadian rhythms: Their role and dysfunction in affective disorder
Date:8/30/2010

rt from the SCN, the body has circadian oscillators in all brain regions and peripheral tissues, for example the liver (Schulz & Steimer, 2009, Bechtold et al., 2010). The SCN is synchronised daily by environmental signals mainly light (Wirz-Justice, 2006). Receiving information on lighting conditions directly from the retina, the SCN drives secretion of the pineal gland hormone melatonin as well as and many peripheral clocks, and their outputs modulate the SCN through feedback or feed-forward effects. Thus, in the body there is a hierarchy of interacting clocks (Schulz, 2007).

In all cells, the expression of many genes changes rhythmically over 24 hours. Specific circadian genes such as CLOCK, BMAL1, and PER are responsible for the main SCN clockworking machinery as well as subsidiary clocks in other parts of the body. In mice with mutations in time-keeping genes, deviant circadian sleep-wake and other rhythms can be observed. In addition, new interest in the role of circadian dysregulation in psychiatric disorders has arisen from the finding that a mutation in a core circadian clock gene induces hyperactivity, decreased sleep, and mania-like behaviour in mice (Turek, 2008).

Animal studies were the key development that brought the field to its present exciting position, because their findings suggested that clock genes are directing the circadian rhythms in all physiological processes.

Circadian disturbances: clinical impact on affective disorders

In healthy individuals, physiological and biochemical variables such as body temperature, cortisol and melatonin, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), noradrenaline and serotonin exhibit a circadian rhythm. However, in patients with affective disorders, many of these circadian rhythms are disturbed in phase and amplitude (Schulz & Steimer, 2009; McClung, 2007).

For instance, women with depression have a greater degree of variability in the timing of physiological and end
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Contact: Sonja Mak
s.mak@update.europe.at
431-405-5734
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Source:Eurekalert

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