The Journal of Physiological Sciences

, Volume 66, Issue 5, pp 367–374 | Cite as

The suprachiasmatic nucleus: age-related decline in biological rhythms

  • Takahiro J. Nakamura
  • Nana N. Takasu
  • Wataru NakamuraEmail author


Aging is associated with changes in sleep duration and quality, as well as increased rates of pathologic/disordered sleep. While several factors contribute to these changes, emerging research suggests that age-related changes in the mammalian central circadian clock within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) may be a key factor. Prior work from our group suggests that circadian output from the SCN declines because of aging. Furthermore, we have previously observed age-related infertility in female mice, caused by a mismatch between environmental light–dark cycles and the intrinsic, internal biological clocks. In this review, we address regulatory mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms in mammals and summarize recent literature describing the effects of aging on the circadian system.


Circadian rhythm Suprachiasmatic nucleus Aging Estrous cycle Infertility 



Suprachiasmatic nucleus


Subparaventricular zone




Constant dark


Circadian time


Multi-unit neural activity


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 26462809, 26860160, 26861780. N.N.T. is a research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.


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Copyright information

© The Physiological Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takahiro J. Nakamura
    • 1
  • Nana N. Takasu
    • 2
  • Wataru Nakamura
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, School of AgricultureMeiji UniversityKawasakiJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Oral Chronobiology, Graduate School of DentistryOsaka UniversitySuitaJapan

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