Mammalian Circadian Period, But Not Phase and Amplitude, Is Robust Against Redox and Metabolic Perturbations

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2018 Mar 1;28(7):507-520. doi: 10.1089/ars.2016.6911. Epub 2017 Jun 26.


Aims: Circadian rhythms permeate all levels of biology to temporally regulate cell and whole-body physiology, although the cell-autonomous mechanism that confers ∼24-h periodicity is incompletely understood. Reports describing circadian oscillations of over-oxidized peroxiredoxin abundance have suggested that redox signaling plays an important role in the timekeeping mechanism. Here, we tested the functional contribution that redox state and primary metabolism make to mammalian cellular timekeeping.

Results: We found a circadian rhythm in flux through primary glucose metabolic pathways, indicating rhythmic NAD(P)H production. Using pharmacological and genetic perturbations, however, we found that timekeeping was insensitive to changes in glycolytic flux, whereas oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) inhibition and other chronic redox stressors primarily affected circadian gene expression amplitude, not periodicity. Finally, acute changes in redox state decreased PER2 protein stability, phase dependently, to alter the subsequent phase of oscillation.

Innovation: Circadian rhythms in primary cellular metabolism and redox state have been proposed to play a role in the cellular timekeeping mechanism. We present experimental data testing that hypothesis.

Conclusion: Circadian flux through primary metabolism is cell autonomous, driving rhythmic NAD(P)+ redox cofactor turnover and maintaining a redox balance that is permissive for circadian gene expression cycles. Redox homeostasis and PPP flux, but not glycolysis, are necessary to maintain clock amplitude, but neither redox nor glucose metabolism determines circadian period. Furthermore, cellular rhythms are sensitive to acute changes in redox balance, at least partly through regulation of PER protein. Redox and metabolic state are, thus, both inputs and outputs, but not state variables, of cellular circadian timekeeping. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 28, 507-520.

Keywords: circadian rhythm; clock gene; mammalian; pentose phosphate pathway; primary metabolism; redox signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks / genetics*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • Glycolysis / genetics
  • Homeostasis*
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • NAD / metabolism
  • Pentose Phosphate Pathway / genetics
  • Peroxiredoxins / metabolism


  • NAD
  • Peroxiredoxins