Mayara MA Silva, Alex M Albuquerque and John F Araujo
Laboratório de Cronobiologia, Departamento de Fisiologia, CB/UFRN, Natal, Brazil
Recently, several papers have shown that a small subset of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which project to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and contain a new photopigment called melanopsin, are the photoreceptors involved in light-dark entrainment in rodents. In our primate colony, we found a couple of common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) that had developed progressive and spontaneous visual deficiency, most likely because of retinal degeneration of cones and/or rods. In this study, we evaluated the photoresponsiveness of the circadian system of these blind marmosets.
Two blind and two normal marmosets were kept in cages with a controlled light-dark cycle (LD) to study photoentrainment, masking, and phase response to a dark pulse.
Blind marmosets were entrained with the new LD cycle when light onsets were delayed and advanced by 6 hours. In constant light conditions, blind marmosets free-ran with a period of 23.2 hours, while normal animals free-ran with a period of 23.6 hours. All marmosets responded to dark pulses in the early subjective day with phase delays and with phase advances in the late subjective day.
Our results demonstrate that light can synchronize circadian rhythms of blind marmosets and consequently, that this species could be a good primate model for circadian photoreception studies.
Journal of Circadian Rhythms 2005, 3:10doi:10.1186/1740-3391-3-10. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0).