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Front Neurol. 2015 May 13;6:95. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00095. eCollection 2015.

Human peripheral clocks: applications for studying circadian phenotypes in physiology and pathophysiology.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Specialties, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva , Geneva , Switzerland.
2
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zürich , Zürich , Switzerland.

Abstract

Most light-sensitive organisms on earth have acquired an internal system of circadian clocks allowing the anticipation of light or darkness. In humans, the circadian system governs nearly all aspects of physiology and behavior. Circadian phenotypes, including chronotype, vary dramatically among individuals and over individual lifespan. Recent studies have revealed that the characteristics of human skin fibroblast clocks correlate with donor chronotype. Given the complexity of circadian phenotype assessment in humans, the opportunity to study oscillator properties by using cultured primary cells has the potential to uncover molecular details difficult to assess directly in humans. Since altered properties of the circadian oscillator have been associated with many diseases including metabolic disorders and cancer, clock characteristics assessed in additional primary cell types using similar technologies might represent an important tool for exploring the connection between chronotype and disease, and for diagnostic purposes. Here, we review implications of this approach for gathering insights into human circadian rhythms and their function in health and disease.

KEYWORDS:

bioluminescence; circadian clock; human chronotype; human primary cells; skin fibroblasts

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