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Biol Lett. Oct 23, 2010; 6(5): 696–698.
Published online Apr 14, 2010. doi:  10.1098/rsbl.2010.0152
PMCID: PMC2936147
Association between mammalian lifespan and circadian free-running period: the circadian resonance hypothesis revisited
C. A. Wyse,1* A. N. Coogan,2 C. Selman,1 D. G. Hazlerigg,1 and J. R. Speakman1
1Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, UK
2Department of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland
*Author for correspondence (c.wyse/at/
Received February 15, 2010; Accepted March 22, 2010.
Biological rhythms that oscillate with periods close to 24 h (circadian cycles) are pervasive features of mammalian physiology, facilitating entrainment to the 24 h cycle generated by the rotation of the Earth. In the absence of environmental time cues, circadian rhythms default to their endogenous period called tau, or the free-running period. This sustained circadian rhythmicity in constant conditions has been reported across the animal kingdom, a ubiquity that could imply that innate rhythmicity confers an adaptive advantage. In this study, we found that the deviation of tau from 24 h was inversely related to the lifespan in laboratory mouse strains, and in other rodent and primate species. These findings support the hypothesis that misalignment of endogenous rhythms and 24 h environmental cycles may be associated with a physiological cost that has an effect on longevity.
Keywords: circadian, tau, lifespan, free-running, rodent, primate
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