Food intake is coordinated to cellular metabolism by clock gene expression with a master clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus synchronized by light exposure. Gastric vagal afferents play a role in regulating food intake, but it is unknown whether they exhibit circadian variation in their mechanosensitivity. We aimed to determine whether gastric vagal afferents express clock genes and whether their response to mechanical stimuli oscillates throughout the light/dark cycle. Nodose ganglia were collected from 8-week-old female C57BL/6 mice every 3 h starting at lights off (1800 h) to quantify Bmal1, Per1, Per2, and Nr1d1mRNAby qRT-PCR. Additionally in vitro single-fiber recordings of gastric vagal mechanoreceptors were taken at all time points. Per1, Per2, Bmal1, and Nr1d1 mRNA is expressed in the nodose ganglia and levels oscillated over a 24 h period. In mice fed ad libitum, gastric content was 3 times higher at 0000 h and 0300 h than 1200 h. The response of tension receptors to 3 g stretch was reduced by up to 70% at 2100 h, 0000 h, and 0300 h compared with 1200 h. Gastric mucosal receptor response to stroking with a 50 mg von Frey hair was 3 times greater at 1200 h and 1500 h than the response at 0000 h. Similar findings were obtained in mice fasted for 6 h or maintained in darkness for 3 d before study. Therefore, these changes do not result from food intake or the light/dark cycle. Thus, gastric vagal mechanoreceptors display circadian rhythm, which may act to control food intake differentially at different times of the day.
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