In recent years, the study of circadian rhythms in mammals has flourished. Animal models revealed that all body tissues have circadian rhythms. In humans, circadian rhythms were also shown to exist at multiple levels of organization: molecular, cellular, and physiological processes, including responding to oxidative stress, cell trafficking, and sex hormone production, respectively. Together, these rhythms are an essential component of human physiology and can shape an individual's susceptibility and response to disease. Circadian rhythms are relatively unexplored in environmental health research. However, circadian clocks control many physiological and behavioral processes that impact exposure pathways and disease systems. We believe this review will motivate new studies of (i) the impact of exposures on circadian rhythms, (ii) how circadian rhythms modify the effect of environmental exposures, and (iii) how time-of-day impacts our ability to observe the body's response to exposure.
This review aims to explore how circadian rhythms influence disease susceptibility and potentially modify the effect of environmental exposures. We aimed to identify biomarkers commonly used in environmental health research that have also been the subject of chronobiology studies, in order to review circadian rhythms of relevance to environmental health and determine if time-of-day is an important factor to consider in environmental health studies. Moreover, we discuss opportunities for studying how environmental exposures may interact with circadian rhythms to structure disease pathology and etiology.