Interactions among microbes, the immune system, and the circadian clock

John F. Brooks, Lora V. Hooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The circadian clock couples physiological processes and behaviors to environmental light cycles. This coupling ensures the synchronization of energetically expensive processes to the time of day at which an organism is most active, thus improving overall fitness. Host immunity is an energetically intensive process that requires the coordination of multiple immune cell types to sense, communicate, and respond to a variety of microorganisms. Interestingly the circadian clock entrains immune cell development, function, and trafficking to environmental light cycles. This entrainment results in the variation of host susceptibility to microbial pathogens across the day-night cycle. In addition, the circadian clock engages in bi-directional communication with the microbiota, resident microorganisms that reside in proximity to the epithelial surfaces of animals. This bi-directional interchange plays an essential role in regulating host immunity and is also pivotal for the circadian control of metabolism. Here, we review the role of the circadian clock in directing host immune programs and consider how commensal and pathogenic microbes impact circadian physiological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-708
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Immunopathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


  • Circadian clock
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Immunity
  • Microbiota
  • Pathogens


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