Adrenal glucocorticoids (GCs) control a wide range of physiological processes, including metabolism, cardiovascular and pulmonary activities, immune and inflammatory responses, and various brain functions. During stress responses, GCs are secreted through activation of the hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenal axis, whereas circulating GC levels in unstressed states follow a robust circadian oscillation with a peak around the onset of the active period of a day.Arecent advance in chronobiological research has revealed that multiple regulatory mechanisms, along with classical neuroendocrine regulation, underlie this GC circadian rhythm. The hierarchically organized circadian system, with a central pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus and local oscillators in peripheral tissues, including the adrenal gland, mediates periodicities in physiological processes in mammals. In this review, we primarily focus on our understanding of the circadian regulation of adrenal GC rhythm, with particular attention to the cooperative actions of the suprachiasmatic nucleus central and adrenal local clocks, and the clinical implications of this rhythm in human diseases.
- Adrenal gland
- Circadian clock
- Circadian rhythm
- Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis