Purpose Adolescence is a period of continuous development, including the maturation of endogenous rhythms across systems and timescales. Although these dynamic changes are well recognized, their continuous structure and hormonal dependence have not been systematically characterized. Given the well-established link between core body temperature (CBT) and reproductive hormones in adults, we hypothesized that high-resolution CBT can be applied to passively monitor pubertal development and disruption with high fidelity.

Methods To examine this possibility, we used signal processing to investigate the trajectory of CBT rhythms at the within-day (ultradian), daily (circadian), and ovulatory timescales, their dependence on estradiol, and the effects of hormonal contraceptives.

Results Puberty onset was marked by a rise in fecal estradiol (fE2), followed by an elevation in CBT and circadian power. This time period marked the commencement of 4-day rhythmicity in fE2, CBT, and ultradian power marking the onset of the estrous cycle. The rise in circadian amplitude was accelerated by E2 treatment, indicating a role for this hormone in rhythmic development. Contraceptive administration in later adolescence reduced CBT and circadian power and resulted in disruption to 4-day cycles that persisted after discontinuation.

Conclusions Our data reveal with precise temporal resolution how biological rhythms change across adolescence and demonstrate a role for E2 in the emergence and preservation of multiscale rhythmicity. These findings also demonstrate how hormones delivered exogenously in a non-rhythmic pattern can disrupt rhythmic development. These data lay the groundwork for a future in which temperature metrics provide an inexpensive, convenient method for monitoring pubertal maturation and support the development of hormone therapies that better mimic and support human chronobiology.

Azure D. Grant, Linda Wilbrecht, Lance J. Kriegsfeld, Adolescent Development of Biological Rhythms: Estradiol Dependence and Effects of Combined Contraceptives, Frontiers in Physiology, Nov. 5, 2021, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.752363/full