The Circadian Clock and Human Health

Curr Biol. 2016 May 23;26(10):R432-43. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.011.


Epidemiological studies provided the first evidence suggesting a connection between the circadian clock and human health. Mutant mice convincingly demonstrate the principle that dysregulation of the circadian system leads to a multitude of pathologies. Chrono-medicine is one of the most important upcoming themes in the field of circadian biology. Although treatments counteracting circadian dysregulation are already being applied (e.g., prescribing strong and regular zeitgebers), we need to comprehend entrainment throughout the body's entire circadian network before understanding the mechanisms that tie circadian dysregulation to pathology. Here, we attempt to provide a systematic approach to understanding the connection between the circadian clock and health. This taxonomy of (mis)alignments on one hand exposes how little we know about entrainment within any organism and which 'eigen-zeitgeber' signals are used for entrainment by the different cells and tissues. On the other hand, it provides focus for experimental approaches and tools that will logically map out how circadian systems contribute to disease as well as how we can treat and prevent them.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans