The Circadian System and Melatonin: Lessons From Rats and Mice

Chronobiol Int. 2003 Jul;20(4):697-710. doi: 10.1081/cbi-120022415.


The circadian system (CS) comprises three key components: (1) endogenous oscillators (clocks) generating a circadian rhythm; (2) input pathways entraining the circadian rhythm to the astrophysical day; and (3) output pathways distributing signals from the oscillator to the periphery. This contribution briefly reviews some general aspects ofthe organization of the rodent CS and pays particular attention to recent results obtained with various mouse strains, related to molecular mechanisms involved in entraining the endogenous clock and the role of the pineal hormone melatonin as a hand of the endogenous clock.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Melatonin / agonists
  • Melatonin / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Rats


  • Cyclic AMP
  • Melatonin