Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



Circadian rhythms are commonplace in organisms and are normally controlled by a master clock. More recent evidence suggests that autonomous clocks operate in various systems in the body, including the immune system. This study looks for such a connection between the circadian rhythm and the immune system. In this study, captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) were exposed to different light and dark cycles and blood samples were taken every six hours. Birds were exposed to 12 hours of light and then 12 hours of darkness (LD), 24 hours of darkness (DD), or 48 hours of DD. After collecting whole blood, RNA was isolated and then RT-PCR was utilized to assess the expression of cytokine genes. It was predicted that cytokine gene expression exhibited rhythmicity in birds exposed to both LD and DD conditions. Alternatively, a lack of a rhythm in DD would suggest that activity of leukocytes was not controlled by a circadian clock. The RT-PCR data analysis of IL-1, IL-6 and IL-10 gene expression showed no significant sustained rhythm over the tested light-dark cycles. This suggests that the expression of these genes was not regulated in a circadian fashion in avian blood. This research has important implications for assessing biological rhythms in immunity and the effectiveness of different drug regimens depending upon the time of day they are administered in birds.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Noah Ashley


Animal Experimentation and Research | Biology | Immunity | Poultry or Avian Science