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Salud mental

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3325


SALAZAR-JUAREZ, Alberto et al. Sincronización no-luminosa: ¿otro tipo de sincronización? Primera parte. Salud Ment [online]. 2007, vol.30, n.3, pp.39-47. ISSN 0185-3325.

One of the most important functions in which the circadian system participates is to assess that the behavioural and physiological variables adjust appropriately to daily events in the environment, a process referred to as entrainment. Since in the nature the food disposition and predators’ activity also are cyclical, the temporary relation between the circadian rhythm and periodic environmental signals maximizes the survival of each species in its temporary niche.

Thus, through this mechanism, the organisms adapt to their environment through circadian system which entrain the organism activities to different external signals. In nature environments the predominance of photic entrainment like primary zeitgeber of the biological clock (suprachiasmatic nucleus) is a clear adaptation to the earthly life; nevertheless other biological advantages can be conferred to an individual if the circadian system also is sensible to other environmental signals that they provide from the external time.

In such way, the light is not the only synchronizer affecting the biological clock. Other stimuli like the temperature and locomotor activity induced by novel stimuli and certain drugs are also able to entrain the biological clock. These signals have been described like non-photic stimuli.

The general effects of the non-photic signals are able to generate phase response and entrain a free running rhythm, only during the subjective day, time in which the biological clock is sensible to these signals which are able to generate phase advances. These phase response are of great magnitude, even of greater magnitude than the induced ones by a light signal.

The non-photic signals are also able to induce residual effects (after-effects) on entrainment process, thereby generating changes in the endogenous period, therefore affecting the phase angle in a cycle L:O and promoting the development of locomotor activity rhythm splitting. Furthermore, the light entrainment has been characterized in a wide variety of diurnal and nocturnal species. While, the non-photic entrainment only appears in nocturnal rodents. Being the hamster’s biological clock one of that responds to the greater number of biological non-photic signals such as the acute exposition to sexual odors, social interactions, as well as by simple injection of saline solution, all of these non-photic signals are able to induce phase advances of the locomotor activity rhythm in free running when they are applied onto the subjective day. The entrainment to a non-photic stimulus is also observed in humans.

Among the non-photic stimuli we can have the pharmacological treatments, social stimuli, stress, food restriction and communication between mother and product in the foetal and neonatal life. These later stimuli are of a particular importance to optimize the circadian function and sensitize the newborn to external environment. Thus the non-photic stimuli could be categorized like behavioural or pharmacological stimuli. These manipulations involve an increase in the locomotor activity, excitation or states able to phase resetting the circadian clock and peripheral oscillators in different species.

The non-photic stimuli can affect to the biological clock through an afferent projection from the SCN that translate the non-photic information and is able to induce phase responses. Additionally, non-photic stimuli could also affect the biological clock through the action of a peripheral oscillator, which is sensitive to this type of signals. These peripheral oscillators translate the non-photic information and it communicates with the SCN, through synaptic and no-synaptic mechanisms.

With regard to the physiological mechanisms involved on this process, there has been suggested to participate four neurotransmitter systems in the circadian system: a) the serotonergic system originating from the raphe nucleus, b) the NPY system from the leaflet intergeniculate (IGL), c) the GABAergic system, which it is present in most of the neurons of the SCN and IGL (the afferent projections of the raphe and the IGL nucleus make synapse with GABAergic neurons in the SCN) and 4) finally a neural system involving dopamine and melatonin signals, which have been importantly implicated in the brain in the foetal and neonatal live.

In comparison to the cascade of intracellular signals caused by glutamatergic stimulation associated to photic entrainment, which excites to the SCN cells, the transmitters implicated in the nonphotic entrainment typically inhibit the SCN neurons. For example the melatonin’s main action on the SCN neurons is inhibiting adenylyl cyclase and the translation of related signals driven by the AMPc, such inhibition of activity of the protein kinase depended of AMPc (PKA), which give rise to a decreased phospho- rylation of the transcription factor CREB. In this way, the phase responses induced by non-photic stimuli are not associate with the phosphorylation of the transcription factor (CREB) associated to responsive DNA-elements to binding AMPciclic or with the transcription of early expression genes in the SCN, events of metabothrophic signalling pathway of the photic entrainment.

The phase responses generated by the non-photic signals occur during the subjective day, time in which the spontaneous expression of clock genes is high in diurnal and nocturnal animals. A reason why the phase resetting of biological clock to non-photic signals can be generated by a fast suppression in the expression levels of the genes clock. The decrease of Per1 and Per2 messenger RNA’s expression levels in the SCN generated by non-photic stimuli occurs during a half of the subjective day, not during the subjective night, which suggests that these genes may participate in the phase resetting of biological clock during the subjective day.

The interactions between phase response induced by the light and those induced by non-photic stimuli have been described previously. When a photic stimulus is applied after a non-photic signal during subjective day, with the purpose of studying the interaction between photic stimuli and non-photic stimuli, the photic stimulus blocks or attenuates the phase advances generated in response to different non-photic stimuli applied, such as the forced locomotor activity, sleep privation, NPY administration, or serotonergic agonists (8-OH-DPAT) administration.

If the genes clock responds to the non-photic stimuli, then the lack of some of them will have to generate alterations in the response to non-photic signals. In the Clock mutant mice, the biological clock responses to the non-photic signals applied during the subjective day generate phase responses in opposed direction from those generated by intact subjects. This latter suggests that different genes clock participate in the generation of the phase response to a non-photic stimulus.

The non-photic entrainment of the circadian system has a biological and/or social importance in several contexts. In the early products life, the communication of circadian information from the mother is important in regulating the biological clock of the foetus or newborn before they are sensitive to light. Under circumstances where the social and work routines are altered, by changes of constant “work turn” (shift work), the biological clock receives photic and non-photic signals which generate a dysfunction and poor work efficiency. The absence of non-photic signals followed by a social abstinence can induce alterations in the mental health (depression). The sleep disorder, experimented blind subject can arise from a lost of the social entrainment, therefore a decrease in the efficiency of the clock mechanism. Thus latter alterations of the clock, it could be possible to develop new forms of pharmacological and behavioural treatments.

Palabras llave : Biological rhythms; non-photic entrainment; biological clock.

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