The circadian clock coordinates a variety of immune responses with signals from the external environment to promote survival. We investigated the potential reciprocal relationship between the circadian clock and skin inflammation. We treated mice topically with the Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonist imiquimod (IMQ) to activate IFN-sensitive gene (ISG) pathways and induce psoriasiform inflammation. IMQ transiently altered core clock gene expression, an effect mirrored in human patient psoriatic lesions. In mouse skin 1 d after IMQ treatment, ISGs, including the key ISG transcription factor IFN regulatory factor 7 (Irf7), were more highly induced after treatment during the day than the night. Nuclear localization of phosphorylated-IRF7 was most prominently time-of-day dependent in epidermal leukocytes, suggesting that these cell types play an important role in the diurnal ISG response to IMQ. Mice lacking Bmal1 systemically had exacerbated and arrhythmic ISG/Irf7 expression after IMQ. Furthermore, daytime-restricted feeding, which affects the phase of the skin circadian clock, reverses the diurnal rhythm of IMQ-induced ISG expression in the skin. These results suggest a role for the circadian clock, driven by BMAL1, as a negative regulator of the ISG response, and highlight the finding that feeding time can modulate the skin immune response. Since the IFN response is essential for the antiviral and antitumor effects of TLR activation, these findings are consistent with the time-of-day-dependent variability in the ability to fight microbial pathogens and tumor initiation and offer support for the use of chronotherapy for their treatment.
Keywords: Bmal1; antiviral; circadian; immune; interferon.
Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.