Neural regulation of the hepatic circadian rhythm

Shigenobu Shibata*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


A microarray analysis experiment has revealed that there are many genes, including so-called clock genes, expressing a circadian rhythm in the liver. The clock genes mentioned above are expressed not only in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, where the master clock exists, but also in other brain regions and various peripheral tissues. In the liver, clock genes are abundantly expressed and show a clear circadian rhythm. Thus, clock genes seem to play a critical role in the molecular clockworks of both the SCN and the liver. Although oscillation of clock genes in the liver is controlled under the circadian clock mechanism in the SCN, we do not know the resetting signals on liver clock function. Over the past few years, use of the pseudorabies virus, a transsynaptic tract tracer, has allowed us to map neural connections between the SCN and peripheral tissues in several physiological systems. Communication between the SCN and peripheral tissues occurs through autonomic nervous systems involving the sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons. This review mainly describes both anatomical and physiological experiments to reveal the sympathetic control over liver clock function. Although further study is necessary to produce the precise mechanism underlying neural control of liver clock systems, evolution of this mechanism will help our understanding of liver clock functions such as drug metabolism and energy metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-909
Number of pages9
JournalAnatomical Record - Part A Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Sept
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenergic
  • Circadian rythm
  • Clock gene
  • Liver
  • Midodrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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