Changing meal times could have significant effect on levels of triglycerides in liver

Last Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 19:56

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: A new research in mice has suggested that merely changing meal times could have a significant effect on the levels of triglycerides in the liver.

The results of this Weizmann Institute of Science study, published in the journal, Cell Metabolism, have important implications for the potential treatment of metabolic diseases. They may also have broader implications for most research areas in the life sciences.

Several biological processes have a fixed schedule, with levels of activity rising and dipping at certain times of the day. Such fluctuations, known as circadian rhythms, are driven by internal “body clocks”. A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings. Disruption to this optimum timing system can cause imbalances, leading to diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver.


In studying the role of circadian rhythm in the accumulation of lipids in the liver, postdoctoral fellow Yaarit Adamovich and the team in the lab of Dr Gad Asher of the Weizmann Institute's Biological Chemistry Department, together with scientists from Dr. Xianlin Han's lab in the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Orlando, US, quantified hundreds of different lipids present in the mouse liver.

They found that a certain group of lipids, namely the triglycerides (TAG), exhibit circadian behaviour, with levels peaking about eight hours after sunrise.

The scientists were astonished to find, however, that daily fluctuations in this group of lipids persist even in mice lacking a functional biological clock, albeit with levels cresting at a completely different time - 12 hours later than the natural schedule.

“These results came as a complete surprise: One would expect that if the inherent clock mechanism is 'dead,' TAG could not accumulate in a time-dependent fashion,” Adamovich said.

So what was making the fluctuating lipid levels “tick” if not the clocks? “One thing that came to mind was that, since food is a major source of lipids - particularly TAG - the eating habits of these mice might play a role.”

However, in mice lacking a functional clock, the team noted that they ingest food constantly throughout the day. This observation excluded the possibility that food is responsible for the fluctuating patterns seen in TAG levels in these mice.

With Agency Inputs

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First Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 19:56

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