Most organisms exhibit behavioral and/or physiological circadian rhythms that allow them to adapt to their environment. In mammals, key physiological processes, such as sleep-wake cycles, hormone secretion, glucose metabolism, immunity, blood pressure, DNA damage response, cell cycle control, are influenced by circadian rhythms. There is increasing evidence that disruption of central and peripheral clocks impacts adversely on human health and disease. Despite this strong evidence, there is a gap in understanding interactions between diseases in the elderly and clock mechanisms, and whether disturbances in biological oscillations driven by central and peripheral clocks are underlying causes or just consequences of these diseases. Therefore, Division of Neuroscience and Division of Aging Biology held an exploratory workshop in Bethesda, MD on June 18, 2010 to survey current understanding, emerging ideas, knowledge gaps and research opportunities pertaining to molecular mechanisms of aging of central and peripheral clocks and their relevance to health and disease. Such workshop would lead in the future to novel strategies for translation of basic biology of aging clocks to clinical settings to identify risks, prevent or delay onset of illnesses, propose diagnostic tools and therapeutic approaches. Participants included experts from the field of circadian biology that explored how molecular components of central and peripheral clocks change with age, and assessed a link between age-related disruption of clock and the central nervous system and peripheral physiology.
Dr. Mack Mackiewicz