Chronobiology in mammalian health

Molecular Biology Reports
Zhihua Liu, Guiyan Chu


Circadian rhythms are daily cycles of physiology and behavior that are driven by an endogenous oscillator with a period of approximately one day. In mammals, the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei are our principal circadian oscillators which influences peripheral tissue clocks via endocrine, autonomic and behavioral cues, and other brain regions and most peripheral tissues contain circadian clocks as well. The circadian molecular machinery comprises a group of circadian genes, namely Clock, Bmal1, Per1, Per2, Per3, Cry1 and Cry2. These circadian genes drive endogenous oscillations which promote rhythmically expression of downstream genes and thereby physiological and behavioral processes. Disruptions in circadian homeostasis have pronounced impact on physiological functioning, overall health and disease susceptibility. This review introduces the general profile of circadian gene expression and tissue-specific circadian regulation, highlights the connection between the circadian rhythms and physiological processes, and discusses the role of circadian rhythms in human disease.


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