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Int J Endocrinol. 2010;2010:813764. doi: 10.1155/2010/813764. Epub 2010 Mar 8.

Shift work, jet lag, and female reproduction.

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Veterinary Biosciences and Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois, 3639 VMBSB MC-002, 2001 S Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, IL 61802, USA.


Circadian rhythms and "clock gene" expression are involved in successful reproductive cycles, mating, and pregnancy. Alterations or disruptions of biological rhythms, as commonly occurs in shift work, jet lag, sleep deprivation, or clock gene knock out models, are linked to significant disruptions in reproductive function. These impairments include altered hormonal secretion patterns, reduced conception rates, increased miscarriage rates and an increased risk of breast cancer. Female health may be particularly susceptible to the impact of desynchronizing work schedules as perturbed hormonal rhythms can further influence the expression patterns of clock genes. Estrogen modifies clock gene expression in the uterus, ovaries, and suprachiasmatic nucleus, the site of the primary circadian clock mechanism. Further work investigating clock genes, light exposure, ovarian hormones, and reproductive function will be critical for indentifying how these factors interact to impact health and susceptibility to disease.

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