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Hormones and Behavior

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Arginine vasopressin (AVP) is a neurohormone that alters cellular physiology through both endocrine and synaptic signaling. Circadian rhythms in AVP release and other biological processes are driven by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus. Loss of vasopressin signaling alters circadian behavior, but the basis of these effects remains unclear. Here we investigate the role of AVP signaling in circadian timekeeping by analyzing behavior and SCN function in a novel AVP-deficient mouse model. Consistent with previous work, loss of AVP signaling increases water consumption and accelerates recovery to simulated jetlag. We expand on these results to show that loss of AVP increases period, imprecision and plasticity of behavioral rhythms under constant darkness. Interestingly, the effect of AVP deficiency on circadian period was influenced by sex, with loss of AVP lengthening period in females but not males. Examining SCN function directly with ex vivo bioluminescence imaging of clock protein expression, we demonstrate that loss of AVP signaling modulates the period, precision, and phase relationships of SCN neurons in both sexes. This pattern of results suggests that there are likely sex differences in downstream targets of the SCN. Collectively, this work indicates that AVP signaling modulates circadian circuits in a manner influenced by sex, which provides new insight into sexual dimorphisms in the regulation of daily rhythms.


Accepted version. Hormones and Behavior, Vol. 127 (January 2021): 104888. DOI. © 2021 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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