Crosstalk between metabolism and circadian clocks

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2019 Apr;20(4):227-241. doi: 10.1038/s41580-018-0096-9.


Humans, like all mammals, partition their daily behaviour into activity (wakefulness) and rest (sleep) phases that differ largely in their metabolic requirements. The circadian clock evolved as an autonomous timekeeping system that aligns behavioural patterns with the solar day and supports the body functions by anticipating and coordinating the required metabolic programmes. The key component of this synchronization is a master clock in the brain, which responds to light-darkness cues from the environment. However, to achieve circadian control of the entire organism, each cell of the body is equipped with its own circadian oscillator that is controlled by the master clock and confers rhythmicity to individual cells and organs through the control of rate-limiting steps of metabolic programmes. Importantly, metabolic regulation is not a mere output function of the circadian system, but nutrient, energy and redox levels signal back to cellular clocks in order to reinforce circadian rhythmicity and to adapt physiology to temporal tissue-specific needs. Thus, multiple systemic and molecular mechanisms exist that connect the circadian clock with metabolism at all levels, from cellular organelles to the whole organism, and deregulation of this circadian-metabolic crosstalk can lead to various pathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / physiology