Obesity May Shut Down Circadian Clock

obesity circadian rhythmScienceDaily has published an article about a new study highlighting a connection between obesity and malfunction of the body’s circadian clock. Researchers at the Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta found that a master clock gene, which is in charge of regulating the cardiovascular system, does not fluctuate regularly in obese mice, as it does in mice of normal weight. This means that a key clock gene of the cardiovascular system does not work correctly.

For some background, humans and animals are programmed to physiologically respond to a day/night cycles based on the 24-hour rotation of the planet. The body has been trained to respond to day cues by eating and being active and to rest and sleep cues during darkness. With obesity, the natural circadian rhythms are thought to be disrupted. Obese people often eat at irregular times, including late at night. They often have sleep apnea, which interrupts their natural sleep rhythm.

The study used three groups of mice: lean, obese and diabetic and examined the circadian variation in the cardiovascular chamber three times per day. They found that the lean animals had a cardiovascular rhythm that seemed to be absent or erratic in the obese mice.

David Stepp, Ph.D., who is a senior researcher on the team, summed up the findings by saying, “Based on the results of this study we now know that obesity impairs the clock machinery of the vasculature system and that correlates with a variation in expression of cardiovascular genes and their loss of the circadian rhythm. Having identified that the Clock gene does not work in the presence of obesity, he says the team has new studies underway to help explain why.”

You can read ScienceDaily’s article here.

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