Molecular Biology Reports

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 2491–2501 | Cite as

Chronobiology in mammalian health

  • Zhihua LiuEmail author
  • 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.


Circadian rhythm Physiology Peripheral tissue Disease 



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81102746, 81100077, 31201768), Beijing Natural Science Foundation (5113033), Scientific Research Foundation of the State Human Resource Ministry and the Education Ministry for Returned Chinese Scholars, New Star Project of Peking Union Medical College, Outstanding Youth Scrolling Foundation of Peking Union Medical College, Basic Scientific Research Operation Cost of State-Leveled Public Welfare Scientific Research Courtyard (YZ-12-15), Special Foundation of China Postdoctoral Science (2012T50067), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2011M500014, 2012M510011), the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (20111106120028), “Major Drug Discovery” major science and technology research “12nd Five-Year Plan” (2012ZX09301-002-001-025), China Medical Board of New York (A2009001), Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET) granted to Zhihua Liu.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Institute of Medicinal Plant DevelopmentChinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical CollegeBeijingChina

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