SEP 04, 2017 01:30 PM PDT

How our Gut Microbiome, Daily Clock, & Metabolism are Connected

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The bacteria we carry in our guts play a critical role in our well-being. Many things can exert an influence on that microbial community, called the gut microbiome, like our diet, medications, and even the hours we keep. Evidence has indicated that changes in the circadian clock can change things in our physiology, including the gut microbiome. New research has identified a gene that plays an important role in the interplay between metabolism and the light cycle of day and night.

Shift workers are often filling critical positions, but can face increased health risk. In this photo, Hospital Corpsman Wade Henry gives a passdown to the night shift in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). / Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Shane T. McCoy.

Reporting in Science, researchers led by Yuhao Wang at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have reported new data that could help explain why disrupting the circadian clock, and subsequent perturbations in the microbiome can cause metabolic disease.

The investigators found that certain molecules that are produced by microbes in the gut were able to affect the expression of the NFIL3 gene, which cycles according to our circadian clock. NFIL3 can influence a metabolic pathway that is also dependent on the time of day, and which controls how intestinal cells absorb fats.

People that work at night or who frequently travel internationally have been found to be at higher risk for diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. There is also evidence that the use of artificial light and long work hours have contributed to the rise in metabolic disease seen in the industrialized world. While inactivity and diet are major factors, there seem to be other influences, and there are feedback loops in the system. For example, a high-fat diet can affect the circadian rhythm of the body, which in turn disrupts metabolism.

Researchers are trying to determine whether we can make alterations to the microbiome that can help people restore normality to their metabolism. Knowing more about the mechanisms underlying the process will help advance that goal.

If you’d like to learn more about the complex relationship between the circadian clock, our gut microbiome, and metabolism, check out the awesome short video above from BrainCraft, a project by Vanessa Hill and PBS.

 

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert!, Science, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Circulation Research

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 20, 2018
Videos
SEP 20, 2018
The Lowdown on Vaccine Development and Production
Learn more about how vaccines are developed and tested, from the CDC....
OCT 08, 2018
Microbiology
OCT 08, 2018
Is a Virus Causing a Mysterious Polio-like Illness in Kids?
Sometime in 2014, the CDC began to get reports of a mysterious illness that was affecting children. More cases have appeared since then....
OCT 19, 2018
Videos
OCT 19, 2018
Latin American Coffee Harvests Threatened by Fungus
A fungus called hemileia vastatrix causes a serious plant disease called coffee leaf rust....
OCT 21, 2018
Microbiology
OCT 21, 2018
The Evolution and Spread of Drug-resistant Tuberculosis
Once thought to have come from Africa ~5,000 years ago, the dominant form of this pathogen really came from Europe, and colonialists spread it around the globe....
OCT 24, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 24, 2018
Silver Nanoparticles Coat Anti-seizure Drugs To Combat Brain-Eating Amoebae
Since Halloween is around the corner, it is science-fiction season and some may choose to celebrate by watching movies featuring brain-eating zombies. Howe...
NOV 05, 2018
Microbiology
NOV 05, 2018
Potential Antidote to Botulism is Found
A microbe called Clostridium botulinum and sometimes two other strains of Clostridium bacteria can make a toxic chemical called botulism....
Loading Comments...