Nearly every cell in the body has its own 24-hour clock.
In a new study, researchers found the way those clocks interact with each other plays a critical role in the health of a person’s metabolism.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Pennsylvania.
It’s widely reported that shift workers suffer from high rates of obesity and diabetes when their internal clocks do not coordinate with each other, as well as due to irregular eating times.
However, little is known about the interaction between internal clocks and eating schedules, and specifically, the impact on overall health.
In the study, the team established a new mouse model that can specifically disrupt the internal clock in hepatocytes, the major cell type in the liver, which is the body’s metabolic hub.
As a result of this disruption, they observed an accumulation of triglycerides in the blood that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
These results show the importance of the internal clocks in peripheral tissue of the liver in maintaining metabolic homeostasis.
Surprisingly, the metabolism of other cell types in the liver was also reprogrammed when the internal clock of hepatocytes was disrupted.
Although day/night cycles influence behavioral rhythms, such as sleeping, emerging evidence suggests that food consumption is an important factor in synchronizing peripheral clocks.
Recent research showed time-restricted eating can benefit metabolism, and many dieters try intermittent fasting to lose weight.
The team observed that both food timing and the integrity of the internal clock in the liver altered rhythms of metabolism.
Specifically, they showed that nearly half of rhythmic genes are regulated by both the internal clock and when the mice ate their food.
The team is hopeful that a better understanding of how food affects the body’s internal rhythms could lead to an optimized diet schedule, which could be an important preventive approach for shift workers as well as a potential therapeutic strategy for patients with metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.
One author of the study is Mitchell Lazar, MD, Ph.D.
The study is published in Science.
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