Mechanisms of communication in the Mammalian Circadian timing system

Mariana Astiz, Isabel Heyde, Henrik Oster*

*Corresponding author for this work


24-h rhythms in physiology and behaviour are organized by a body-wide network of endogenous circadian clocks. In mammals, a central pacemaker in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) integrates external light information to adapt cellular clocks in all tissues and organs to the external light-dark cycle. Together, central and peripheral clocks co-regulate physiological rhythms and functions. In this review, we outline the current knowledge about the routes of communication between the environment, the main pacemakers and the downstream clocks in the body, focusing on what we currently know and what we still need to understand about the communication mechanisms by which centrally and peripherally controlled timing signals coordinate physiological functions and behaviour. We highlight recent findings that shed new light on the internal organization and function of the SCN and neuroendocrine mechanisms mediating clock-to-clock coupling. These findings have implications for our understanding of circadian network entrainment and for potential manipulations of the circadian clock system in therapeutic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number343
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15.01.2019

Research Areas and Centers

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


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