Sleep disruption (circadian rhythm dysfunction) can influence brain function and neurological diseases through inflammatory pathways.
Circadian clock dysfunction is a common symptom of aging and neurodegenerative diseases, though its impact on brain health is poorly understood. Astrocyte activation occurs in response to diverse insults and plays a critical role in brain health and disease. We report that the core circadian clock protein BMAL1 regulates astrogliosis in a synergistic manner via a cell-autonomous mechanism and a lesser non-cell-autonomous signal from neurons. Astrocyte-specific Bmal1 deletion induces astrocyte activation and inflammatory gene expression in vitro and in vivo, mediated in part by suppression of glutathione-S-transferase signaling. Functionally, loss of Bmal1 in astrocytes promotes neuronal death in vitro. Our results demonstrate that the core clock protein BMAL1 regulates astrocyte activation and function in vivo, elucidating a mechanism by which the circadian clock could influence many aspects of brain function and neurological disease.