Industrialisation greatly increased human night-time exposure to artificial light, which in animal models is a known cause of depressive phenotypes. Whilst many of these phenotypes are 'direct' effects of light on affect, an 'indirect' pathway via altered sleep-wake timing has been suggested. We have previously shown that the Period3 gene, which forms part of the biological clock, is associated with altered sleep-wake patterns in response to light. Here, we show that both wild-type and Per3-/- mice showed elevated levels of circulating corticosterone and increased hippocampal Bdnf expression after 3 weeks of exposure to dim light at night, but only mice deficient for the PERIOD3 protein (Per3-/-) exhibited a transient anhedonia-like phenotype, observed as reduced sucrose preference, in weeks 2-3 of dim light at night, whereas WT mice did not. Per3-/- mice also exhibited a significantly smaller delay in behavioural timing than WT mice during weeks 1, 2 and 4 of dim light at night exposure. When treated with imipramine, neither Per3-/- nor WT mice exhibited an anhedonia-like phenotype, and neither genotypes exhibited a delay in behavioural timing in responses to dLAN. While the association between both Per3-/- phenotypes remains unclear, both are alleviated by imipramine treatment during dim night-time light.
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