Many basic physiological functions exhibit circadian rhythmicity. These functional rhythms are driven, in part, by the circadian clock, an ubiquitous molecular mechanism allowing cells and tissues to anticipate regular environmental events and to prepare for them. This mechanism has been shown to play a particularly important role in maintaining stability (homeostasis) of internal conditions. Because the homeostatic equilibrium is continuously challenged by environmental changes, the role of the circadian clock is thought to consist in the anticipative adjustment of homeostatic pathways in relation with the 24h environmental cycle. The kidney is the principal organ responsible for the regulation of the composition and volume of extracellular fluids (ECF). Several major parameters of kidney function, including renal plasma flow (RPF), glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and tubular reabsorption and secretion have been shown to exhibit strong circadian oscillations. Recent evidence suggest that the circadian clock can be involved in generation of these rhythms through external circadian time cues (e.g. humoral factors, activity and body temperature rhythms) or, trough the intrinsic renal circadian clock. Here, we discuss the role of renal circadian mechanisms in maintaining homeostasis of water and three major ions, namely, Na(+), K(+) and Cl(-).
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