Metabolism and cancer: the circadian clock connection

Nat Rev Cancer. 2009 Dec;9(12):886-96. doi: 10.1038/nrc2747.


Circadian rhythms govern a remarkable variety of metabolic and physiological functions. Accumulating epidemiological and genetic evidence indicates that the disruption of circadian rhythms might be directly linked to cancer. Intriguingly, several molecular gears constituting the clock machinery have been found to establish functional interplays with regulators of the cell cycle, and alterations in clock function could lead to aberrant cellular proliferation. In addition, connections between the circadian clock and cellular metabolism have been identified that are regulated by chromatin remodelling. This suggests that abnormal metabolism in cancer could also be a consequence of a disrupted circadian clock. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the molecular links that connect the circadian clock to the cell cycle and metabolism could provide therapeutic benefit against certain human neoplasias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • NAD / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Sirtuin 1 / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • NAD
  • SIRT1 protein, human
  • Sirtuin 1