Circadian clocks, glucocorticoids and the gated inflammatory response

  • Stephen Beesley

    Student thesis: Phd


    AbstractTHE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTERSubmitted by Stephen Beesley for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and entitled: Circadian Clocks, glucocorticoids and the gated inflammatory response, September 2010.In mammals endogenous, self sustained oscillators, known as circadian clocks, have evolved as a result of day night cycles, with a period close to 24 hours, and are involved in many physiological processes; such as sleep wake cycles, metabolic and hormonal activity. The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), is the central oscillator, and is synchronised to the external environment by light, via the eye. It has been demonstrated that peripheral clocks, too, contain the circadian oscillator, with tissues such as the lung, liver, heart and kidney as well as many isolated cell types remaining rhythmic, in culture, for many days. However, these peripheral oscillators require a signal from the central oscillator in order to co-ordinate a synchronised time. Leading candidates in the relay of this information are the circulating glucocorticoid hormones corticosterone (rodents) or cortisol (man), which are known to have potent effects on the peripheral clock, both in-vivo and in-vitro. Further to this, glucocorticoids have been used for many decades to suppress the symptoms of inflammation, a by product of many human diseases.This thesis aims to address the temporal regulation of the peripheral clock by the endogenous glucocorticoid, corticosterone, using a transgenic mouse harbouring a luciferase conjugated clock reporter, and circadian reporter cell lines. It also aims to address the relative contribution of the two closely related nuclear hormone receptors, the glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors. A further aim of the work with glucocorticoid signalling was to design a flow-though culture system, in order to address the effects of the endogenous pulsatile release of glucocorticoids on the peripheral oscillator. This thesis also aims to characterise the inflammatory response in relation to its circadian characteristics; its relationship with corticosterone and the effect of inflammation on the central clock components. Finally, this thesis aims to investigate a potential input/output of the clock, a member of the family of C/EBP transcription factors, C/EBP alpha, and whether it is under endogenous circadian control and regulated by glucocorticoids.Work in this thesis has shown that glucocorticoids dynamically regulate the peripheral clock at all phases of the circadian cycle and that this regulation occurs mainly through the glucocorticoid receptor; yet the mineralocorticoid receptor does have a function in the immediate response to glucocorticoid administration. Furthermore, as a result of the initial temporal profile after corticosterone addition, on the clock protein PERIOD2, I have shown transient regulation of the clock through Caveolin-1 based signalling. There is also a significant circadian component to the inflammatory response, which appears, at least in part, to be REV-ERB alpha mediated, and the inflammatory response also has profound effects on circadian gene expression in the periphery. A functional flow-through system was designed and a working model produced, albeit with technical difficulties, to address glucocorticoid pulsing and circadian timing but much more work is needed for effects to be fully understood. C/EBP alpha appears not to be under circadian regulation nor under direct glucocorticoid regulation, at least in peripheral models used here.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2010
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorAndrew Loudon (Supervisor) & David Ray (Supervisor)


    • glucocorticoids
    • inflammation
    • circadian

    Cite this