The connection of circadian rhythm to inflammatory bowel disease

Transl Res. 2019 Apr:206:107-118. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2018.12.001. Epub 2018 Dec 19.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comprises a group of chronic, immune system-mediated inflammatory diseases that primarily affect the gastrointestinal tract. The pathogenesis of the intestinal lesions in IBD remains elusive, but the inflammation process could be the result of dysfunction of the innate and adaptive immune systems induced by genetic and environmental factors. In recent years, research has demonstrated a connection between environmental stressors that can influence day-night variations, also called circadian rhythms, and digestive health. In this review, we focus on alterations in the complex interactions between intestinal mucosa, microbial factors, and the immune response in the intestinal milieu. We introduce the mechanisms that establish circadian rhythms and their regulation by the circadian rhythm genes. Evidence of circadian variation in the defense mechanisms of the intestine and its implication in the maintenance of a healthy microbiota are presented. Disruption of the circadian system can increase the activity of the gut immune system and the release of inflammatory factors. The link between chronodisruption or circadian rhythm impairment and IBD demonstrated by experimental and clinical studies illustrates the potential impact of circadian rhythms on treatment of these diseases. Future studies that investigate aspects of this subject are warranted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm* / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology