Chronobiology of Endocrine and Endocrine-Responsive Tumors

  • R. von Roemeling


A prominent feature of the endocrine system is its high degree of temporal organization, which was recently reviewed by van Cauter [1]. Far from obeying the concept of constancy of the internal environment, circulating hormone levels spontaneously undergo pronounced oscillations. Plasma levels of adrenocorti-cotropin (ACTH), growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) follow a circadian pattern which repeats itself day after day. PRL levels decrease rapidly after morning awakening, a time when ACTH release is close to its maximum and GH secretion is generally quiescent. Both PRL and GH increase rapidly after sleep onset, a time when ACTH levels are essentially suppressed. Under normal conditions, the 24-h profile of plasma PRL levels follows a bimodal pattern, with minimal concentrations around noon, and afternoon phase of augmented secretion and a major nocturnal elevation starting shortly after sleep onset and culmi-nating around mid-sleep. Thus, the release of these three hormones by the pituitary follows a highly coordinated temporal program. Pulsatile secretion is evident throughout the 24-h cycle for ACTH and PRL (Fig. 1). In contrast, pulses of GH secretion occur less frequently and are often confined to the early part of sleep. In addition to the circadian and pulsatile variations, other ultradian and infradian rhythms also occur. The ultradian range includes a pulsatile release of pituitary and pituitary-dependent hormones and ultrafast fluctuations with periods of reoccurrence in the range of minutes.


Breast Cancer Circadian Rhythm Natural Killer Activity Thymidine Kinase Activity Circannual Rhythm 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

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  • R. von Roemeling

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