Gene expression profiling of the SCN in young and old rhesus macaques

Dominique H. Eghlidi, Selva L. Luna, Donald I. Brown, Vasilios T. Garyfallou, Steven G. Kohama, Henryk F. Urbanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the location of a master circadian pacemaker. It receives photic signals from the environment via the retinal hypothalamic tract, which play a key role in synchronizing the body’s endogenously generated circadian rhythms with the 24-h rhythm of the environment. Therefore, it is plausible that age-related changes within the SCN contribute to the etiology of perturbed activity– rest cycles that become prevalent in humans during aging. To test this hypothesis, we used gene arrays and quantitative RT-PCR to profile age-related gene expression changes within the SCN of male rhesus macaques – a pragmatic translational animal model of human aging, which similarly displays an age-related attenuation of daytime activity levels. As expected, the SCN showed high expression of arginine vasopressin, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, calbindin and nuclear receptor subfamily 1, group D, member 1 (NR1D1) (also known as reverse strand of ERBA (REV-ERBα), both at the mRNA and protein level. However, no obvious difference was detected between the SCNs of young (7–12 years) and old animals (21–26 years), in terms of the expression of core clock genes or genes associated with SCN signaling and neurotransmission. These data demonstrate the resilience of the primate SCN to normal aging, at least at the transcriptional level and, at least in males, suggest that age-related disruption of activity–rest cycles in humans may instead stem from changes within other components of the circadian system, such as desynchronization of subordinate oscillators in other parts of the body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of molecular endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Aging
  • REV-ERBα
  • Rhesus macaque
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus
  • VIP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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