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While stress does not affect the phase or period of the central pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, it can shift clocks in peripheral tissues. Our previous studies showed significant delays of the PER2 rhythms in lung and kidney following social defeat stress. The mechanism underlying these effects is not fully understood, but might involve glucocorticoids (GC) released during the stressor. In the present study, we performed social defeat stress in adrenalectomized (ADX) mice to see if the induction of endogenous GC is necessary for the stress-induced phase shifts of peripheral clocks. We used mice that carry a luciferase reporter gene fused to the circadian clock gene Period2 (PER2::LUC) to examine daily rhythms of PER2 expression in various peripheral tissues. Mice were exposed to 5 consecutive daily social defeat stress in the late dark phase (ZT21-22). Running wheel rotations were recorded during 7 baseline and 5 social defeat days, which showed that social defeat stress suppressed locomotor activity without affecting the phase of the rhythm. This suppression of activity was not prevented by ADX. One hour after the last stressor, tissue samples from the liver, kidney and lung were collected and cultured for ex vivo bioluminescence recordings. In the liver, PER2 rhythms were not affected by social defeat stress or ADX. In the kidney, social defeat stress caused a > 4 h phase delay of the PER2 rhythm, which was prevented by ADX, supporting the hypothesis of a crucial role of GC in this stress effect. In the lung, social defeat stress caused an 8 h phase delay, but, surprisingly, a similar phase delay was seen in ADX animals independent of defeat. The latter indicates complex effects of stress and stress hormones on the lung clock. In conclusion, the findings show that repeated social defeat stress in the dark phase can shift PER2 rhythms in some tissues (lung, kidney) and not others (liver). Moreover, the social defeat stress effect in some tissues appears to be mediated by glucocorticoids (kidney) whereas the mechanism in other tissues is more complex (lung). Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Xiangpan Kong, Michelle Luxwolda, Roelof A Hut, Peter Meerlo. Adrenalectomy prevents the effects of social defeat stress on PER2 rhythms in some peripheral tissues in male mice. Hormones and behavior. 2023 Apr;150:105326

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PMID: 36764158

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