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Section: New Results

Mathematical modeling in chronobiology

Circadian clocks are autonomous oscillators entrained by external Zeitgebers such as light-dark and temperature cycles. On the cellular level, rhythms are generated by negative transcriptional feedback loops. In mammals, the suprachiasmatic necleus (SCN) in the anterior part of the hypothalamus plays the role of the central circadian pacemaker. Coupling between individual neurons in the SCN leads to specify self-sustained oscillations even in the absence of external signals. These neuronal rhythms orchestrate the phasing of circadian oscillations in peripheral organs. Altogether, the mammalian circadian system can be regarded as a network of coupled oscillators. In order to understand the dynamic complexity of these rhythms, mathematical models successfully complement experimental investigations. In [19] , we discuss basic ideas of modeling on three different levels: (i) rhythm generation in single cells by delayed negative feedbacks, (ii) synchronization of cells via external stimuli or cell-cell coupling, and (iii) optimization of chronotherapy.