Adrenal clocks and the role of adrenal hormones in the regulation of circadian physiology

Alexei Leliavski, Rebecca Dumbell, Volker Ott, Henrik Oster*

*Corresponding author for this work
35 Citations (Scopus)


The mammalian circadian timing system consists of a master pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and subordinate clocks that disseminate time information to various central and peripheral tissues. While the function of the SCN in circadian rhythm regulation has been extensively studied, we still have limited understanding of how peripheral tissue clock function contributes to the regulation of physiological processes. The adrenal gland plays a special role in this context as adrenal hormones show strong circadian secretion rhythms affecting downstream physiological processes. At the same time, they have been shown to affect clock gene expression in various other tissues, thus mediating systemic entrainment to external zeitgebers and promoting internal circadian alignment. In this review, we discuss the function of circadian clocks in the adrenal gland, how they are reset by the SCN and may further relay time-of-day information to other tissues. Focusing on glucocorticoids, we conclude by outlining the impact of adrenal rhythm disruption on neuropsychiatric, metabolic, immune, and malignant disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)20-34
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2015

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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