Circadian control of the immune system

Nat Rev Immunol. 2013 Mar;13(3):190-8. doi: 10.1038/nri3386. Epub 2013 Feb 8.


Circadian rhythms, which have long been known to play crucial roles in physiology, are emerging as important regulators of specific immune functions. Circadian oscillations of immune mediators coincide with the activity of the immune system, possibly allowing the host to anticipate and handle microbial threats more efficiently. These oscillations may also help to promote tissue recovery and the clearance of potentially harmful cellular elements from the circulation. This Review summarizes the current knowledge of circadian rhythms in the immune system and provides an outlook on potential future implications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / physiology
  • Animals
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Chronobiology Disorders / immunology
  • Circadian Rhythm / immunology*
  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Drug Chronotherapy
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immunity, Humoral / physiology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Mammals / immunology
  • Mammals / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology


  • Circadian Rhythm Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Hormones