Estrogens and the circadian system

Victoria M. Alvord, Elizabeth J. Kantra, Julie S. Pendergast

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


Circadian rhythms are ~24 h cycles of behavior and physiology that are generated by a network of molecular clocks located in nearly every tissue in the body. In mammals, the circadian system is organized hierarchically such that the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the main circadian clock that receives light information from the eye and entrains to the light-dark cycle. The SCN then coordinates the timing of tissue clocks so internal rhythms are aligned with environmental cycles. Estrogens interact with the circadian system to regulate biological processes. At the molecular level, estrogens and circadian genes interact to regulate gene expression and cell biology. Estrogens also regulate circadian behavior across the estrous cycle. The timing of ovulation during the estrous cycle requires coincident estrogen and SCN signals. Studies using circadian gene reporter mice have also elucidated estrogen regulation of peripheral tissue clocks and metabolic rhythms. This review synthesizes current understanding of the interplay between estrogens and the circadian system, with a focus on female rodents, in regulating molecular, physiological, and behavioral processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
JSP was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01DK124774 and P30DK020579 and the University of Kentucky .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Clock genes
  • Estradiol
  • Female
  • Mouse
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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