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The endogenous circadian clocks are important in regulating internal metabolic processes, physiological states, and behaviors, which are essential for organisms to anticipate the environmental changes that oscillate daily ( circa-dian =about one day). Misalignment of the endogenous clocks from the external time cues, such as in shift-workers and frequent across time-zone travelers, causes major health hazards with high risks in metabolic syndromes (such as diabetes), cardiovascular diseases, sleep disorders, and even cancers.
In the eyes, retina is the neural tissue that receives and transmits the light information into the brain. The circadian clocks in the retina prepare this neural tissue to anticipate the upcoming light or darkness, since the ambient illumination changes throughout the course of a day over at least 12 orders of magnitude. Disruption of the retinal circadian clocks causes impaired visual function, which further impacts the light information transmitted into the brain.
The circadian clock in the heart also prepares the heart muscles ready for the upcoming sympathetic stimulation, which is under the control of the master clock--the circadian clock inside the brain. Dysfunction of the circadian clock in the heart causes cardiac arrest and other cardiac diseases.
We employ different techniques, including electrophysiological patch-clamp recordings, various biochemical and molecular assays, and cellular imaging to investigate how the circadian clocks regulate physiology and function in the retina and heart of both healthy and disease (diabetes) states.
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