All Arctic visitors have to deal with extreme conditions, including a constant high light intensity during the summer season or constant darkness during winter. The light/dark cycle serves as the most potent synchronizing signal for the biological clock, and any Arctic visitor attending those regions during winter or summer would struggle with the absence of those entraining signals. However, the inner clock can be synchronized by other zeitgebers such as physical activity, food intake, or social interactions. Here, we investigated the effect of the polar day on the circadian clock of 10 researchers attending the polar base station in the Svalbard region during the summer season. The data collected in Svalbard was compared with data obtained just before leaving for the expedition (in the Czech Republic 49.8175°N, 15.4730°E). To determine the circadian functions, we monitored activity/rest rhythm with wrist actigraphy followed by sleep diaries, melatonin rhythm in saliva, and clock gene expression (Per1, Bmal1, and Nr1D1) in buccal mucosa samples. Our data shows that the two-week stay in Svalbard delayed melatonin onset but did not affect its rhythmic secretion, and delayed the activity/rest rhythm. Furthermore, the clock gene expression displayed a higher amplitude in Svalbard compared to the amplitude detected in the Czech Republic. We hypothesize that the common daily schedule at the Svalbard expedition strengthens circadian rhythmicity even in conditions of compromised light/dark cycles. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate peripheral clock gene expression during a polar expedition.

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Journal: Journal of circadian rhythms. 2019;17.

Keywords: arctic, circadian system, polar day, social cues,

Applications: Chronobiology,

CamNtech Reference: M19027

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