• circadian rhythm;
  • light;
  • neurotransmitters;
  • nucleus accumbens;
  • striatum

Abstract:  Using microdialysis, we investigated the circadian rhythms of the extracellular concentrations of dopamine, glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the striatum and nucleus accumbens of the awake rat. Wistar rats were maintained in a 12 hr dark:12 hr light (12:12) cycle for 2 wk before the experiment began. The neurotransmitter levels were measured every 30 min for 30 hr in control (maintaining the 12:12 cycle) or in experimental conditions under a 24-h light period (continuous light) or under a 24-h dark interval (continuous dark). The dopamine metabolites, DOPAC and HVA, and the main serotonin metabolite, 5-HIAA, were measured along with arginine and glutamine under all conditions. In 12:12 conditions, a circadian rhythm of dopamine, glutamate and GABA was found in both the striatum and nucleus accumbens. Again under 12:12 conditions, DOPAC, HVA, 5-HIAA, and arginine, but not glutamine, fluctuated in a circadian rhythm. In the striatum under constant light conditions, there was a circadian rhythm of dopamine, glutamate, GABA, DOPAC and HVA, but not 5-HIAA. By contrast, when the rats were kept under continuous dark, dopamine and its metabolites, DOPAC and HVA (but not glutamate and GABA), did not fluctuate in a circadian rhythm. In the nucleus accumbens, under both constant light or dark conditions, no changes were found in the circadian rhythm in any of the neurotransmitters and metabolites studied. These findings show that in the striatum, dopamine but not glutamate and GABA, seem to be influenced by light. In the nucleus accumbens, however, the three neurotransmitters had a circadian rhythm, which was independent of light.