This Research Topic is part of the “Development of Circadian Clock Functions” series. Development of Circadian Clock Functions
The temporal order of physiological functions such as sleep/wakefulness is regulated by the circadian clock. This intrinsic clock starts ticking in the embryo and matures during development, with attenuation of the clock function in the elderly, illustrated by attenuation of synchrony, entrainment, and outputs of cellular circadian rhythms in the SCN. This age-related diminution can contribute to the emergence of diseases, such as sleep disorders, infertility, diabetes, mental disorders etc. Over the course of our lives, a variety of internal and external factors are under the influence of the circadian clock. This inherent developmental plasticity of the circadian system is critical for the establishment of normal bodily functions to adapt to the changing environment on earth.
In mammals, the central circadian clock is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. Circadian rhythms in the SCN are observed during the embryonic period, and input and output pathways from the SCN are formed after birth. During postnatal development, functions of neurotransmitters in the SCN are changed, which have an influence on special temporal patterns of circadian rhythms in the SCN and outputs signals to the outside of the SCN. During postnatal development properties of circadian rhythms in the SCN and its inputs and outputs can be modulated by environmental light conditions. Recent optical manipulation and imaging techniques have revealed that cell type specific functions for circadian rhythms. However, it remains unclear which cell types or networks in the brain are modulated during postnatal development, and how these cells regulate circadian rhythms depending on postnatal period.
The Research Topic focuses on the development of circadian clock functions on gene, cellular, networks, and organism levels. We would like to understand how the circadian clock is involved in normal or pathological development, and what mechanisms are involved in these processes. The integration of a variety of fields of research and novel techniques will help us to further understand how circadian clock functions change throughout development in both health and disease.
The aim of the current Research Topic is to cover promising, recent, and novel research trends in the development and plasticity of circadian clock. We encourage review articles and original research papers. Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to:
• Cellular, neuronal, and network features of the circadian clock during development
• Relationship between the circadian clock and diseases during development
• Molecular mechanisms linking environmental changes and the circadian clock during development