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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 254979, 9 pages
Research Article

The Importance of Stochastic Effects for Explaining Entrainment in the Zebrafish Circadian Clock

1CoMPLEX, UCL, Physics Building, Gower Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK
2Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK

Received 24 June 2015; Revised 12 October 2015; Accepted 22 October 2015

Academic Editor: Ahmed Alsaedi

Copyright © 2015 Raphaela Heussen and David Whitmore. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The circadian clock plays a pivotal role in modulating physiological processes and has been implicated, either directly or indirectly, in a range of pathological states including cancer. Here we investigate how the circadian clock is entrained by external cues such as light. Working with zebrafish cell lines and combining light pulse experiments with simulation efforts focused on the role of synchronization effects, we find that even very modest doses of light exposure are sufficient to trigger some entrainment, whereby a higher light intensity or duration correlates with strength of the circadian signal. Moreover, we observe in the simulations that stochastic effects may be considered an essential feature of the circadian clock in order to explain the circadian signal decay in prolonged darkness, as well as light initiated resynchronization as a strong component of entrainment.