Circadian rhythms are daily cycles in biological function that are ubiquitous in nature. Understood as a means for organisms to anticipate daily environmental changes, circadian rhythms are also important for orchestrating complex biological processes such as immunity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the respiratory system, where circadian rhythms in inflammatory lung disease have been appreciated since ancient times. In this focused review we examine how emerging research on circadian rhythms is being applied to the study of fundamental lung biology and respiratory disease. We begin with a general introduction to circadian rhythms and the molecular circadian clock that underpins them. We then focus on emerging data tying circadian clock function to immunologic activities within the respiratory system. We conclude by considering outstanding questions about biological timing in the lung and how a better command of chronobiology could inform our understanding of complex lung diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-412
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual review of physiology
StatePublished - 2020


  • circadian
  • clock
  • inflammation
  • lung
  • pulmonary
  • rhythm


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