The circadian clock: pacemaker and tumour suppressor

Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 May;3(5):350-61. doi: 10.1038/nrc1072.


The circadian rhythms are daily oscillations in various biological processes that are regulated by an endogenous clock. Disruption of these rhythms has been associated with cancer in humans. One of the cellular processes that is regulated by circadian rhythm is cell proliferation, which often shows asynchrony between normal and malignant tissues. This asynchrony highlights the importance of the circadian clock in tumour suppression in vivo and is one of the theoretical foundations for cancer chronotherapy. Investigation of the mechanisms by which the circadian clock controls cell proliferation and other cellular functions might lead to new therapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Eye Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / physiology
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology


  • Eye Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53