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Front Neurol. 2015 Mar 6;6:43. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00043. eCollection 2015.

Impact of the circadian clock on the aging process.

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Department of Biology/Biochemistry, University of Fribourg , Fribourg , Switzerland.


The increase of life expectancy and the decline of biological functions with advancing age are impending obstacles for our society. In general, age-related changes can be separated into two processes. Primary aging is based on programs governing gradual changes which are generally not harmful. On the other hand, secondary aging or senescence is more aleatory in nature and it is at this stage that the progressive impairment of metabolic, physiological, and neurological functions increases the risk of death. Exploiting genetic animal models, we obtain more and more information on the underlying regulatory networks. The aim of this review is to identify potential links between the output of the circadian oscillator and secondary aging. The reasons to suspect such links rely on the fact that the mouse models without functional circadian clocks sometimes exhibit reduced life expectancy. This may be due to their inability to properly control and synchronize energy expenditure, affecting, for example, the integrity of neurons in the brain. Hence, it is tempting to speculate that re-synchronization of metabolic and physiological functions by the circadian clock may slow down the aging process.


aging; circadian clock; genetic models; metabolism; regulatory networks

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