This review explores the interface between circadian timekeeping and the regulation of brain function by astrocytes. Although astrocytes regulate neuronal activity across many time domains, their cell-autonomous circadian clocks exert a particular role in controlling longer-term oscillations of brain function: the maintenance of sleep states and the circadian ordering of sleep and wakefulness. This is most evident in the central circadian pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, where the molecular clock of astrocytes suffices to drive daily cycles of neuronal activity and behavior. In Alzheimer’s disease, sleep impairments accompany cognitive decline. In mouse models of the disease, circadian disturbances accelerate astroglial activation and other brain pathologies, suggesting that daily functions in astrocytes protect neuronal homeostasis. In brain cancer, treatment in the morning has been associated with prolonged survival, and gliomas have daily rhythms in gene expression and drug sensitivity. Thus, circadian time is fast becoming critical to elucidating reciprocal astrocytic-neuronal interactions in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-143
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jul 10 2023


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • calcium signaling
  • circadian clock
  • glioma
  • gliotransmitter
  • sleep


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