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J Neuroendocrinol. 2015 Jul;27(7):567-76. doi: 10.1111/jne.12279.

Circadian Tick-Talking Across the Neuroendocrine System and Suprachiasmatic Nuclei Circuits: The Enigmatic Communication Between the Molecular and Electrical Membrane Clocks.

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Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


As with many processes in nature, appropriate timing in biological systems is of paramount importance. In the neuroendocrine system, the efficacy of hormonal influence on major bodily functions, such as reproduction, metabolism and growth, relies on timely communication within and across many of the brain's homeostatic systems. The activity of these circuits is tightly orchestrated with the animal's internal physiological demands and external solar cycle by a master circadian clock. In mammals, this master clock is located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), where the ensemble activity of thousands of clock neurones generates and communicates circadian time cues to the rest of the brain and body. Many regions of the brain, including areas with neuroendocrine function, also contain local daily clocks that can provide feedback signals to the SCN. Although much is known about the molecular processes underpinning endogenous circadian rhythm generation in SCN neurones and, to a lesser extent, extra-SCN cells, the electrical membrane clock that acts in partnership with the molecular clockwork to communicate circadian timing across the brain is poorly understood. The present review focuses on some circadian aspects of reproductive neuroendocrinology and processes involved in circadian rhythm communication in the SCN, aiming to identify key gaps in our knowledge of cross-talk between our daily master clock and neuroendocrine function. The intention is to highlight our surprisingly limited understanding of their interaction in the hope that this will stimulate future work in these areas.


circadian rhythm; clock genes; electrical activity; ion channels; neuroendocrine system; reproduction; suprachiasmatic nuclei

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