Ontogeny of the circadian system: a multiscale process throughout development

Trends Neurosci. 2024 Jan;47(1):36-46. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2023.11.004. Epub 2023 Dec 8.


The 24 h (circadian) timing system develops in mammals during the perinatal period. It carries out the essential task of anticipating daily recurring environmental changes to identify the best time of day for each molecular, cellular, and systemic process. Although significant knowledge has been acquired about the organization and function of the adult circadian system, relatively little is known about its ontogeny. During the perinatal period, the circadian system progressively gains functionality under the influence of the early environment. This review explores current evidence on the development of the circadian clock in mammals, highlighting the multilevel complexity of the process and the importance of gaining a better understanding of its underlying biology.

Keywords: astrocytes; circadian clock; humans; mouse; neurons; suprachiasmatic nuclei.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Pregnancy
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus