Disruption of circadian rhythms may contribute to inflammatory disease

May 21, 2014

A disruption of circadian rhythms, when combined with a high-fat, high-sugar diet, may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease and other harmful conditions, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center. The study is online at the peer-reviewed, open-access journal, PLOS ONE.

"Circadian rhythms, which impose a 24-hour cycle on our bodies, are different from sleep patterns," said Robin M. Voigt, PhD, assistant professor at Rush Medical College and first author of the study. "Sleep is a consequence of circadian rhythms," Voigt said.

While circadian rhythm disruption may be common among some, the research suggests that it may be contributing to a host of diseases that may be prevented by regulating things such as sleep/wake patterns and times of eating to help prevent circadian rhythm disruption. Including prebiotics or probiotics in the diet can also help normalize the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota to reduce the presence of inflammation.

"It's something that needs to be addressed—not something people need to be very concerned about, but aware. If you have some of these other risk factors, like a high-fat, high-sugar diet," or a genetic tendency toward disruption in circadian rhythms, "take precautions, watch your diet, take pre- and probiotics, monitor your health, be vigilant," Voigt said.

The prevailing theory is that of a "second hit hypothesis" whereby individuals with at-risk lifestyle choices or genetic predispositions will only develop disease if a secondary insult is present. "We believe that chronic circadian rhythm disruption promotes/exacerbates inflammatory-mediated diseases, at least in part, due to changes in the intestinal microbiota," she said.

Inflammation is associated with a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, and can cause organ damage and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

In the study, male mice had their cycles of exposure to light and dark reversed on a weekly basis (i.e., "shifted"), an experience that is known to disrupt an organism's innate circadian rhythm. Some of the mice ate standard food; others ate a high-fat, high-sugar diet. Researchers found that the microbiota of the mice that had their circadian rhythms disrupted were significantly different from that of the control group—but only if they had consumed the high-fat, high-sugar diet.

All the mice that ate the high-fat, high-sugar diet displayed changes in the makeup of the microorganisms in their guts, regardless of circadian status. However, mice that ate the high-fat, high-sugar , and had circadian-rhythm disruptions, had higher concentrations of bacteria that are known to promote inflammation than any of the other mice in the study. Disrupting the circadian rhythms of the fed standard chow did not significantly affect the microbiota in their intestines.

These findings support previous studies that have shown that the negative effects of circadian disruption are subtle enough that "a second environmental insult is often necessary to reveal [their] deleterious effects," the study says.

Many people have their disrupted on a regular basis—shift workers like nurses, doctors, firefighters and policemen. "Other people have 'social jet lag,' a lifestyle pattern that leads them to maintain a normal schedule on weekdays, but then stay up late and sleep in on the weekends," Voigt said.

"Looking forward, we would like to functionally evaluate how circadian rhythm disruption may influence diseases including colon cancer, which may in part be the consequence of altered intestinal microbiota," she concluded.

Explore further: Study shows how 'body clock' dysregulation underlies obesity, more

Related Stories

Study shows how 'body clock' dysregulation underlies obesity, more

May 14, 2014
A team of Texas A&M University System scientists have investigated how "body clock dysregulation" might affect obesity-related metabolic disorders.

The interruption of biological rhythms during chemotherapy worsen its side effects

May 21, 2014
The circadian system, better known as our biological clock, is responsible for coordinating all the processes that take place in our organism.

Nutrition influences metabolism through circadian rhythms

December 19, 2013
A high-fat diet affects the molecular mechanism controlling the internal body clock that regulates metabolic functions in the liver, UC Irvine scientists have found. Disruption of these circadian rhythms may contribute to ...

It's about time: Disrupted internal clocks play role in disease

July 1, 2013
Thirty percent of severe alcoholics develop liver disease, but scientists have not been able to explain why only a subset is at risk. A research team from Northwestern University and Rush University Medical Center now has ...

Simple changes in ICU can help heart attack patients

April 1, 2014
To improve recovery for heart attack patients, hospitals should maintain normal day and night cycles for those patients during the first few days after the attack, say University of Guelph researchers.

Recommended for you

Targeting 'broken' metabolism in immune cells reduces inflammatory disease

July 12, 2017
The team, led by researchers at Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and Ergon Pharmaceuticals, believes the approach could offer new hope in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, autoimmune ...

A perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious' and promote inflammation, study finds

June 29, 2017
Even in healthy individuals, the skin plays host to a menagerie of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Growing scientific evidence suggests that this lively community, collectively known as the skin microbiome, serves an important ...

Inflammatory bowel disease: Scientists zoom in on genetic culprits

June 28, 2017
Scientists have closed in on specific genes responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from a list of over 600 genes that were suspects for the disease. The team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators ...

Trials show unique stem cells a potential asthma treatment

June 28, 2017
A study led by scientists at Monash University has shown that a new therapy developed through stem cell technology holds promise as a treatment for chronic asthma.

Researchers find piece in inflammatory disease puzzle

May 23, 2017
Inflammation is the process by which the body responds to injury or infection but when this process becomes out of control it can cause disease. Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers, in collaboration with ...

Researchers reveal potential target for the treatment of skin inflammation in eczema and psoriasis

May 22, 2017
Superficially, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis may appear similar but their commonalities are only skin deep. Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is primarily driven by an allergic reaction, while psoriasis is considered ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
not rated yet May 22, 2014
Which is the greater consideration, the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota or the effects of the intestinal microbiota on the circadian rhythm?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.