Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

 Human studies on hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis
The daily rhythm of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is regulated by the central clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Cortisol, a glucocorticoid, acts as a secondary messenger between the central clock and the peripheral tissues. Changes in clock time, as seen in shift workers, alters the HPA axis and results in metabolic disturbances associated with ill health. Depression, anorexia nervosa and obstructive sleep apnoea, are associated with cortisol rhythm phase shifts and increased cortisol exposure.