Alterations or disturbances in the brain’s master circadian clock create havoc and can have serious consequences. Rotational shift work, for instance, has been associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and increased risk of cancer. And sleep disorders are commonplace. The key, suggested by recent research, may lie with the neuropeptide arginine vasopressin (AVP).
See M. H. Hastings, Science 342, 52 (2013)
Y. Yagamuchi et al., Science 342, 85 (2013), studied jet lag with mice and examined locomotor activities and changes in locomotor activities when they manipulated light-dark conditions. They observed that mice genetically deficient in vasopressin V1a and V1b receptors are resistant to jet lag. And pharmacological blocking of AVP receptors accelerated recovery from jet lag.
Be nice to travel to Europe and not experience jet lag, no?
Hastings reports that only a small minority of people are affected by jet lag. Public health interests, however, as noted above, involve more widespread sleep disorders with adverse consequences that merit further research into AVP signaling.