Biologic rhythms in the immune system

Chronobiol Int. 1999 Sep;16(5):581-622. doi: 10.3109/07420529908998730.


In all of its components, the immune system shows regularly recurring, rhythmic variations in numerous frequencies; the circadian (about 24 h) rhythms are the best explored. The circadian variations in immunocompetent cells circulating in the peripheral blood are of a magnitude to require attention in medical diagnostics. Both the humoral arm and the delayed (cellular) arm of the immune system function in a rhythmic manner. The response of the immune system to introduction of an antigen and to challenge of the sensitized organism varies in extent in the circadian frequency range and also in lower frequencies, for example, of about a week (circaseptan) or seasonally (circannual). The medical application of the biologic rhythms of the immune system extends to diagnostic measures, as well as treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Menstrual Cycle / immunology
  • Neurosecretory Systems / immunology
  • Periodicity*
  • Seasons
  • Sleep / immunology


  • Cytokines