2012 Volume 35 Issue 9 Pages 1385-1391
One of the most significant conceptual changes brought about by the analysis of circadian clock-deficient mice is that abnormalities in the circadian clock are linked not only to sleep arousal disorder but also to a wide variety of common diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. It has recently been shown that the disruption of the two cryptochrome genes Cry1 and Cry2—core elements of the circadian clock—induces salt-dependent hypertension due to abnormally high synthesis of the mineralocorticoid aldosterone by the adrenal gland. This adrenal disorder occurs as a result of increased expression of Hsd3b6, a newly identified steroidogenic enzyme that regulates aldosterone production within the adrenal zona glomerular cells. Importantly, this enzyme is functionally conserved in humans, and the pathophysiologic condition of human idiopathic hyperaldosteronism resembles that of Cry1/2-deficient mice. This review highlights the potential utility of circadian clock-deficient mice as a tool for exploring hitherto unknown disease etiology linked to the circadian clock.