Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Science Pal: Missing link found between circadian clock and metabolism

Science Pal: Missing link found between circadian clock and metabolism

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 findings appear in the July 25th issue of the journal Cell, a publication of Cell Press.

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," added Gad Asher of University of Geneva in Switzerland, noting that such treatments might be a help to people suffering from circadian sleep disturbances. That idea could be easily tested by giving mice resveratrol, a SIRT1-boosting ingredient found in red wine, and examining its effects on clock function, he added.

Although still a matter of some debate, SIRT1 and its equivalent proteins in other organisms (known collectively as Sirtuins) have been shown to prolong life span. Studies have also implicated the protein in the life-extending effects of a calorie restricted diet in some, though not all, organisms.

So wake/sleep cycles, metabolism, and longevity are related. somehow. Very interesting stuff.

No comments: