The circadian rhythm of glucocorticoids is regulated by a gating mechanism residing in the adrenal cortical clock

Cell Metab. 2006 Aug;4(2):163-73. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2006.07.002.


In mammals, the master clock of the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and subordinate clocks found throughout the body coordinate circadian rhythms of behavior and physiology. We characterize the clock of the adrenal, an important endocrine gland that synchronizes physiological and metabolic rhythms. Clock gene expression was detected in the outer adrenal cortex prefiguring a role of the clock in regulating gluco- and mineral corticoid biogenesis. In Per2/Cry1 double mutant mice, which lack a circadian clock, hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis regulation was defective. Organ culture and tissue transplantation suggest that the adrenal pacemaker gates glucocorticoid production in response to adrenocorticotropin (ACTH). In vivo the adrenal circadian clock can be entrained by light. Transcriptome profiling identified rhythmically expressed genes located at diverse nodes of steroid biogenesis that may mediate gating of the ACTH response by the adrenal clock.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex / chemistry*
  • Adrenal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / analysis
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cryptochromes
  • Flavoproteins / genetics
  • Flavoproteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • Signal Transduction
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cry1 protein, mouse
  • Cryptochromes
  • Flavoproteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Per2 protein, mouse
  • Period Circadian Proteins
  • Transcription Factors

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE4253