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This article is the author’s final published version in International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 23, Issue 3, February 2022, Article number 1331.

The published version is available at Copyright © Nelson et al.


Circadian disruption has been linked to cancer development, progression, and radiation response. Clinical evidence to date shows that circadian genetic variation and time of treatment affect radiation response and toxicity for women with breast cancer. At the molecular level, there is interplay between circadian clock regulators such as PER1, which mediates ATM and p53-mediated cell cycle gating and apoptosis. These molecular alterations may govern aggressive cancer phenotypes, outcomes, and radiation response. Exploiting the various circadian clock mechanisms may enhance the therapeutic index of radiation by decreasing toxicity, increasing disease control, and improving outcomes. We will review the body’s natural circadian rhythms and clock gene-regulation while exploring preclinical and clinical evidence that implicates chronobiological disruptions in the etiology of breast cancer. We will discuss radiobiological principles and the circadian regulation of DNA damage responses. Lastly, we will present potential rational therapeutic approaches that target circadian pathways to improve outcomes in breast cancer. Understanding the implications of optimal timing in cancer treatment and exploring ways to entrain circadian biology with light, diet, and chronobiological agents like melatonin may provide an avenue for enhancing the therapeutic index of radiotherapy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.