Circadian Clocks and Mood-Related Behaviors
Circadian clocks are present in nearly all tissues of an organism, including the brain. The brain is not only the site of the master coordinator of circadian rhythms located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) but also contains SCN-independent oscillators that regulate various functions such as feeding and mood-related behavior. Understanding how clocks receive and integrate environmental information and in turn control physiology under normal conditions is of importance because chronic disturbance of circadian rhythmicity can lead to serious health problems. Genetic modifications leading to disruption of normal circadian gene functions have been linked to a variety of psychiatric conditions including depression, seasonal affective disorder, eating disorders, alcohol dependence, and addiction. It appears that clock genes play an important role in limbic regions of the brain and influence the development of drug addiction. Furthermore, analyses of clock gene polymorphisms in diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) suggest a direct or indirect influence of circadian clock genes on brain function. In this chapter, I will present evidence for a circadian basis of mood disorders and then discuss the involvement of clock genes in such disorders. The relationship between metabolism and mood disorders is highlighted followed by a discussion of how mood disorders may be treated by changing the circadian cycle.
KeywordsDepression Obesity Light Drugs
I would like to thank Dr. Jürgen Ripperger for his comments on the manuscript. Financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the State of Fribourg is gratefully acknowledged.
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