The circadian clock and viral pathogenesis

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr Rachel Edgar

    Imperial College London

Project summary

Our body clocks coordinate different biological functions over time and allow us to anticipate daily environmental changes. Sleep/wake cycles are the most obvious example of these circadian rhythms, but every cell in the body has its own molecular clock controlling a 24-hour programme of activity. In order to replicate, viruses enter host cells and commandeer their resources and then evade the immune system until they transmit to new hosts. The host environment is not constant because the body clock drives daily changes in cellular activity and the immune system. I have demonstrated that virus replication and disease severity depends on the time of day of infection.

I will investigate the host response to viruses at different times of day and during disruption to the circadian rhythm, as occurs during shift work.

This study will help us understand how our body clocks affect with infection at the molecular level. This will allow us to target our antiviral resources more effectively.