An overview of the circadian rhythms and the biological clock concept in medical doctrine

These rhythms include blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels, the number of immune cells in blood, and the sleep-wake cycle. In this paper, we will focus on common genes between species that are responsible for determining the circadian behavior, especially some transcription factors i. The intent of this summary is to introduce the common molecular mechanism of biological clocks between flies and humans and then to describe the research from three laboratories that was presented in the session. Circadian rhythms are a ubiquitous adaptation of all organisms to the most predictable of environmental challenges.

An overview of the circadian rhythms and the biological clock concept in medical doctrine

Studies have found that these changes are governed by a biological clock, which in mammals is located in two brain areas called the suprachiasmatic nuclei. The circadian cycles established by this clock occur throughout nature and have a period of approximately 24 hours. In addition, these circadian cycles can be synchronized to external time signals but also can persist in the absence of such signals.

Studies have found that the internal clock consists of an array of genes and the protein products they encode, which regulate various physiological processes throughout the body. Disruptions of the biological rhythms can impair the health and well-being of the organism. These daily rhythms are not simply a response to the hour changes in the physical environment imposed by the earth turning on its axis but, instead, arise from a timekeeping system within the organism.

The biological clock also provides internal temporal organization and ensures that internal changes take place in coordination with one another. For example, if a nocturnal rodent were to venture from its burrow during broad daylight, the rodent would be exceptionally easy prey for other animals.

Similarly, a lack of synchrony within the internal environment might lead to health problems in the individual, such as those associated with jet lag, shift work, and the accompanying sleep loss e.

The mechanisms underlying the biological timekeeping systems and the potential consequences of their failure are among the issues addressed by researchers in the field of chronobiology.

In its broadest sense, chronobiology encompasses all research areas focusing on biological timing, including high-frequency cycles e. Among these interrelated areas of chronobiology, this article focuses on one frequency domain-the daily cycles known as circadian rhythms.

Other animals are discussed only in cases in which they have contributed to the understanding of the mammalian system, particularly in studies of the molecular genetic makeup of the time-keeping system.

For comparative discussions of other nonmammalian model systems that have contributed to the depth of understanding of circadian rhythmicity in mammals, the reader is referred to Wager-Smith and Kay Overall, this article has the following major objectives: Historical Overview of Chronobiology Researchers began studying biological rhythms approximately 50 years ago.

Although no single experiment serves as the defining event from which to date the beginning of modern research in chronobiology, studies conducted in the s on circadian rhythmicity in fruit flies by Colin Pittendrigh and in humans by Jurgen Aschoff can be considered its foundation.

The area of sleep research, which also is subsumed under the field of chronobiology, evolved some-what independently, with the identification of various sleep stages by Nathaniel Kleitman around the same time Dement The legacies of these pioneers continue today with the advancement of the fields they founded.

The roots of the study of biological rhythms, however, reach back even further, to the s and the work of the French scientist de Mairan, who published a monograph describing the daily leaf movements of a plant.

De Mairan observed that the daily raising and lowering of the leaves continued even when the plant was placed in an interior room and thus was not exposed to sunlight. This finding suggested that the movements represented something more than a simple response to the sun and were controlled by an internal clock.

Thus, almost all diurnal rhythms that occur under natural conditions continue to cycle under laboratory conditions devoid of any external time-giving cues from the physical environment e.

Circadian rhythms that are expressed in the absence of any hour signals from the external environment are called free running. This means that the rhythm is not synchronized by any cyclic change in the physical environment. Strictly speaking, a diurnal rhythm should not be called circadian until it has been shown to persist under constant environmental conditions and thereby can be distinguished from those rhythms that are simply a response to hour environmental changes.

For practical purposes, however, there is little reason to distinguish between diurnal and circadian rhythms, because almost all diurnal rhythms are found to be circadian.

Nor is a terminology distinction made among circadian rhythms based on the type of environmental stimulus that synchronizes the cycle.

The persistence of rhythms in the absence of a dark-light cycle or other exogenous time signal i. The hypothesis that such uncontrolled geomagnetic cues might play a role in the persistence of rhythmicity can be refuted by a second characteristic feature of circadian rhythms: These cycles persist with a period of close to, but not exactly, 24 hours.

If the rhythms were exogenously driven, they should persist with a period of exactly 24 hours. The seeming imprecision is an important feature of rhythmicity, however.

As Pittendrigh demonstrated, the deviation from a hour cycle actually provides a means for the internal time-keeping system to be continuously aligned by and aligned to the light-dark environment. A third characteristic property of circadian rhythms is their ability to be synchronized, or entrained, by external time cues, such as the light-dark cycle.

Thus, although circadian rhythms can persist in the absence of external time cues meaning that they are not driven by the environmentnormally such cues are present and the rhythms are aligned to them.

Accordingly, if a shift in external cues occurs e. This alignment is called entrainment.

An overview of the circadian rhythms and the biological clock concept in medical doctrine

Initially, it was unclear whether entrainment was achieved by modulating the rate of cycling i. Experiments resulting from this debate led to fundamental discoveries.

An overview of the circadian rhythms and the biological clock concept in medical doctrine

This difference in responses can be represented by a phase-response curve see figure 1 for a schematic illustration of a circadian cycle as well as a phase-response curve. Such a curve can predict the manner in which an organism will entrain not only to shifts in the light-dark cycles but also to unusual light cycles, such as nonhour cycles or different light: The existence of a phase-response curve also implies that entrainment is achieved by discrete resetting events rather than changes in the rate of cycling.Overview of Circadian Rhythms Martha Hotz Vitaterna, Ph.D., Joseph S.

Takahashi, Ph.D., and Fred W. Turek, Ph.D. The daily light-dark cycle governs rhythmic . title = "Overview of circadian rhythms", abstract = "The daily light-dark cycle governs rhythmic changes in the behavior and/or physiology of most species.

From the Academy: Biological clocks

Studies have found that these changes are governed by a biological clock, which in mammals is located in two brain areas called the suprachiasmatic nuclei.

The Circadian Rhythm is a hour biological wake – sleep cycle that governs most animals and humans in a synchronized series of natural functions and responses. You are set to respond to the circadian rhythm based on an inner biological clock. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Washington learned this by exposing hamsters—another organism used in sleep research—to conditions that advanced or delayed the biological clock.

Introduction and overview. Circadian rhythm hypotheses have been prominent in the explanation of bipolar disorder (BD) for more than 20 years (1, 2). Changes in sleep are part of diagnostic criteria, and stabilising daily rhythms is recognised as therapeutic in consensus treatment guidelines (4, 5).

Start studying biopsych biological clocks and circadian rhythms. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.

Learn How Your Biological Clock Controls Circadian Rhythm and Your Sleep Cycle