Tuning the Circadian Clock; Boosting Rhythms May Be Key to Future Treatments and Medicines; New Article Unravels Remarkable Relationship Between Time-of-Day and Physiology

Subconsciously, our bodies keep time for us through an ancient means--the circadian clock. A new University of California, Irvine (UCI)-led article reviews how the clock controls various aspects of homeostasis, and how organs coordinate their function over the course of a day. "What is fascinating is that nearly every cell that makes up our organs has its own clock, and thus timing is a crucial aspect of biology," said Kevin B. Koronowski, PhD, lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in Biological Chemistry at the UCI School of Medicine. "Understanding how daily timing is integrated with function across organs has implications for human health, as disruption of the clock and circadian rhythms can be both a cause and effect of diseases from diabetes to cancer." The circadian clock generates a ~24-hour rhythm that controls behavior, hormones, the immune system, and metabolism. Using human cells and mice, researchers from the Paolo Sassone-Corsi Laboratory at UCI's Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism aim to uncover the physiological circuits, for example between the brain and liver, whereby biological clocks achieve coherence. The scientists’ work, titled, "Communicating Clocks Shape Circadian Homeostasis," was published in the February 12, 2021 issue of Science.Circadian clocks align internal processes with external time, which enables diverse lifeforms to anticipate daily environmental changes such as the light-dark cycle. In complex organisms, clock function starts with the genetically encoded molecular clock or oscillator within each cell and builds upward anatomically into an organism-wide system. Circadian misalignment, often imposed in modern society, can disrupt this system and induce adverse effects on health if prolonged.
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