Circadian regulation in the retina: From molecules to network
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The mammalian retina is the most unique tissue among those that display robust circadian/diurnal oscillations. The retina is not only a light sensing tissue that relays light information to the brain, it has its own circadian "system" independent from any influence from other circadian oscillators. While all retinal cells and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) possess circadian oscillators, these oscillators integrate by means of neural synapses, electrical coupling (gap junctions), and released neurochemicals (such as dopamine, melatonin, adenosine, and ATP), so the whole retina functions as an integrated circadian system. Dysregulation of retinal clocks not only causes retinal or ocular diseases, it also impacts the circadian rhythm of the whole body, as the light information transmitted from the retina entrains the brain clock that governs the body circadian rhythms. In this review, how circadian oscillations in various retinal cells are integrated, and how retinal diseases affect daily rhythms.
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