Circadian rhythm of intraocular pressure in the adult rat

Diana C. Lozano, Andrew T.E. Hartwick, Michael D. Twa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Ocular hypertension is a risk factor for developing glaucoma, which consists of a group of optic neuropathies characterized by progressive degeneration of retinal ganglion cells and subsequent irreversible vision loss. Our understanding of how intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve is based on clinical measures of intraocular pressure that only gives a partial view of the dynamic pressure load inside the eye. Intraocular pressure varies over the course of the day and the oscillator regulating these daily changes has not yet been conclusively identified. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast the circadian rhythms of intraocular pressure and body temperature in Brown Norway rats when these animals are housed in standard light-dark and continuous dim light (40-90 lux) conditions. The results from this study show that the temperature rhythm measured in continuous dim light drifted forward relative to external time, indicating that the rhythm was free running and being regulated by an internal biological clock. Also, the results show that there is a persistent, but dampened, circadian rhythm of intraocular pressure in continuous dim light and that the circadian rhythms of temperature and intraocular pressure are not synchronized by the same central oscillator. We conclude that once-or twice-daily clinical measures of intraocular pressure are insufficient to describe intraocular pressure dynamics. Similarly, our results indicate that, in experimental animal models of glaucoma, the common practice of housing animals in constant light does not necessarily eliminate the potential influence of intraocular pressure rhythms on the progression of nerve damage. Future studies should aim to determine whether an oscillator within the eye regulates the rhythm of intraocular pressure and to better characterize the impact of glaucoma on this rhythm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-523
Number of pages11
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Circadian
  • Core body temperature
  • Intraocular pressure
  • Rodent
  • Telemetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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