Chronic paroxetine treatment prevents disruption of methamphetamine-sensitive circadian oscillator in a transgenic mouse model of Huntington's disease

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Circadian abnormalities seen in Huntington's disease (HD) patients are recapitulated in several HD transgenic mouse models. In mice, alongside the master clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), two other oscillators may influence circadian behaviour. These are the food-entrainable oscillator (FEO) and the methamphetamine-sensitive circadian oscillator (MASCO). SCN- and MASCO- (but not FEO-) driven rhythms are progressively disrupted in the R6/2 mouse model of HD. MASCO-driven rhythms are induced by chronic treatment with low dose of methamphetamine and characterised by an increase in period length to greater than 24 h. Interestingly, the rhythms mediated by MASCO deteriorate earlier than those mediated by the SCN in R6/2 mice. Here, we used a pharmacological strategy to investigate the mechanisms underlying MASCO-driven rhythms in WT mice. In contrast to methamphetamine, chronic cocaine was ineffective in generating a MASCO-like component of activity although it markedly increased locomotion. Furthermore, neither blocking dopamine (DA) receptors (with the DA antagonist haloperidol) nor blocking neurotransmission by inhibiting the activity of vesicular monoamine transporter (with reserpine) prevented the expression of the MASCO-driven rhythms, although both treatments downregulated locomotor activity. Interestingly, chronic treatment with paroxetine, a serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor commonly used as antidepressant in HD, was able to restore the expression of MASCO-driven rhythms in R6/2 mice. Thus, MASCO-driven rhythms appear to be mediated by both serotoninergic and dopaminergic systems. This supports the idea that abnormalities in MASCO output may contribute to both the HD circadian and psychiatric phenotype.HighlightsChronic treatment with cocaine does not induce MASCO-like rhythms in WT mice.Non-selective blockade of dopaminergic receptors does not prevent expression of MASCO in WT mice.Treatment with paroxetine rescues the expression of the MASCO-driven rhythms in R6/2 mice.Serotonin is involved in the expression of MASCO-driven rhythms.Deficit in central serotonin may contribute to circadian rhythm dysfunction in HD mice.

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