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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012 Feb 5;349(1):82-90. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.06.039. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

Circadian nature of immune function.

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Endocrinology Program and Department of Animal Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


The primary physiological role of the circadian system is to synchronize and coordinate organ systems, particularly in response to dynamics in the environment. The immune system is under direct circadian control by systemic cues and molecular clocks within immune cells. The master circadian pacemaker called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) conveys timing information to the immune system through endocrine and autonomic pathways. These signals promote phase coherence of peripheral clocks in the immune system, and also govern daily variations in immune function. The coordination of immune response may compose an anticipatory state for optimal immune response. Interactions between circadian and immune systems are bidirectional, in that immune factors can modulate phasing of circadian clocks. Circadian disruption, such as environmental desynchronization and/or anomalous molecular clock functions, may lead to lack of system coordination, and particular vulnerabilities to infection and disease may develop.

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