Is Shift-Work Affecting Your Liver and Weight?

This week ScienceDaily wrote about a study that found the molecules that protect the liver from fat work during daytime hours. A research team led by Mitchell Lazar, MD, PhD, who is the director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has discovered molecules that act as “shift workers” to metabolize fat.

night shift weightThe team found that there is a set of molecules that migrates to the genome of liver cells during the daytime. According to their findings, it works in this way: “A protein delivers the molecular workers to thousands of specific locations in the liver genome, many of which are near genes involved in the production of fat. Another team member does construction work on the protein scaffold surrounding the genome to diminish the activity of the fat-related genes. During the night, the day shift molecules depart the liver genome, and fat production increases due to other regulatory molecules. The fat production is kept in check when the day shift team returns to the genome the next day.”

It has been known for decades that fat production by the liver runs on a 24-hour cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. It is similar to the sleep-wake cycle. This study helps further explain how irregular sleep patterns, like those of shift workers, can be risk factors for obesity and diabetes because they disturb the natural rhythm of fat metabolism.

You can read the full article here.

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