blogathon: metabolism and circadian rhythm

missing link found between circadian clock and metabolism

two new research studies have discovered a long sought molecular link between our metabolism and components of the internal clock that drives circadian rhythms, keeping us to a roughly 24-hour schedule.

the missing link is a well-studied mammalian protein called SIRT1, which was previously known to be switched on and off in accordance with cells’ metabolic state and is perhaps best known for its potential life-extending properties.

“we all have noticed in an intuitive manner that the body requires more energy at certain times of day,” said paolo sassone-corsi of university of california, irvine. “that’s why we have lunch or dinner”there is a cyclicity in feeding behavior and energy requirement. that suggests there must be a link between the clock and metabolism. now, in SIRT1, we have found a molecular connection between the circadian machinery and metabolism.”

“while it remains a matter of speculation, the findings suggest that drugs that inhibit or activate sirt1 might have an effect on the clock” …

the physiology and behavior of mammals are subject to daily oscillations driven by an endogenous circadian clock … the circadian timing system is composed of a central pacemaker in the brain and subsidiary oscillators in most peripheral tissues. while light-dark cycles are the predominant cue for the brain’s pacemaker, cyclic feeding behavior has a strong effect on clocks operating in many other tissues …

the findings also open a door on the possibility that epigenetics might influence behavior, sassone-corsi added, with potential implications for understanding the obesity epidemic.

“genetics can’t be the answer because the incidence is on the rise,” he said. “something else must be going on and perhaps epigenetic regulation is the key. in broad terms, that’s where we’re going.”

(if you like to read about the more obscure scientific stuff, read the whole article here)

while my ability to remember scientific facts is, well, let’s say below par, i am nevertheless fascinated by this kind of research. as i’ve mentioned in an earlier post about obesity and nutrigenomics, i think that fields of study like epigenetics and nutrigenomics will make a real difference in terms of how we look at nutrition, weight gain, and ultimately eating disorders.

canadian mental health association

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

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