Hypoxia induces a time- and tissue-specific response that elicits intertissue circadian clock misalignment

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jan 7;117(1):779-786. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1914112117. Epub 2019 Dec 17.


The occurrence and sequelae of disorders that lead to hypoxic spells such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) exhibit daily variance. This prompted us to examine the interaction between the hypoxic response and the circadian clock in vivo. We found that the global transcriptional response to acute hypoxia is tissue-specific and time-of-day-dependent. In particular, clock components differentially responded at the transcriptional and posttranscriptional level, and these responses depended on an intact circadian clock. Importantly, exposure to hypoxia phase-shifted clocks in a tissue-dependent manner led to intertissue circadian clock misalignment. This differential response relied on the intrinsic properties of each tissue and could be recapitulated ex vivo. Notably, circadian misalignment was also elicited by intermittent hypoxia, a widely used model for OSA. Given that phase coherence between circadian clocks is considered favorable, we propose that hypoxia leads to circadian misalignment, contributing to the pathophysiology of OSA and potentially other diseases that involve hypoxia.

Keywords: PER2::LUC mice; circadian clock; hypoxia; metabolism; obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / etiology
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Photoperiod*
  • RNA-Seq
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*


  • Oxygen