Glucocorticoid (GC) is an adrenal steroid with diverse physiological effects. It undergoes a robust daily oscillation, which has been thought to be driven by the master circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus via the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. However, we show that the adrenal gland has its own clock and that the peripheral clockwork is tightly linked to steroidogenesis by the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein. Examination of mice with adrenal-specific knockdown of the canonical clock protein BMAL1 reveals that the adrenal clock machinery is required for circadian GC production. Furthermore, behavioral rhythmicity is drastically affected in these animals, together with altered expression of Period1, but not Period2, in several peripheral organs. We conclude that the adrenal peripheral clock plays an essential role in harmonizing the mammalian circadian timing system by generating a robust circadian GC rhythm.
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