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
OCT 22, 2019
Earth & The Environment
OCT 22, 2019
How temperature affects citrus-greening disease
Ever heard of huanglongbing? While more commonly referred to as citrus greening disease, huanglongbing (HLB) is threatening your favorite morning beverage ...
OCT 22, 2019
Earth & The Environment
OCT 22, 2019
What role does a light-capturing marine microbe play in climate regulation?
A USC-led research team discovered the unique role that a light-capturing marine microbe plays in regulating Earth’s climate. The team consisted of s...
OCT 22, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 22, 2019
A Pathogen That Has Evolved to Spread in Hospitals
Clostridium difficile is the primary cause of infections that are acquired in hospital settings; it causes diarrhea and intestinal inflammation....
OCT 22, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
OCT 22, 2019
RNA Polymerases Can Signal to One Another Over Long Genomic Distances
Scientists have taken a close look at transcription in the Escherichia coli bacterium at the level of a single molecule....
OCT 22, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 22, 2019
A More Precise Version of CRISPR/Cas9 is Created
A more accurate version of Cas9 has been created, reducing the number of off-target effects. It may be better suited for use in gene therapy....
OCT 22, 2019
Microbiology
OCT 22, 2019
Potential New Antibiotic Discovered in Soil-Dwelling Microbe
Many of our best antibiotics have come from microbes, which have to use them to battle other microorganisms in a struggle for resources....
Loading Comments...