TitleClocks on top: the role of the circadian clock in the hypothalamic and pituitary regulation of endocrine physiology.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsTonsfeldt, KJ, Chappell, PE
JournalMolecular and cellular endocrinology
Date Published2012 Feb 5
KeywordsThyroid Gland

Recent strides in circadian biology over the last several decades have allowed researchers new insight into how molecular circadian clocks influence the broader physiology of mammals. Elucidation of transcriptional feedback loops at the heart of endogenous circadian clocks has allowed for a deeper analysis of how timed cellular programs exert effects on multiple endocrine axes. While the full understanding of endogenous clocks is currently incomplete, recent work has re-evaluated prior findings with a new understanding of the involvement of these cellular oscillators, and how they may play a role in constructing rhythmic hormone synthesis, secretion, reception, and metabolism. This review addresses current research into how multiple circadian clocks in the hypothalamus and pituitary receive photic information from oscillators within the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), and how resultant hypophysiotropic and pituitary hormone release is then temporally gated to produce an optimal result at the cognate target tissue. Special emphasis is placed not only on neural communication among the SCN and other hypothalamic nuclei, but also how endogenous clocks within the endocrine hypothalamus and pituitary may modulate local hormone synthesis and secretion in response to SCN cues. Through evaluation of a larger body of research into the impact of circadian biology on endocrinology, we can develop a greater appreciation into the importance of timing in endocrine systems, and how understanding of these endogenous rhythms can aid in constructing appropriate therapeutic treatments for a variety of endocrinopathies.