Disruption of the body's internal clock causes disruption of metabolic processes

December 7, 2016

Chronobiologists from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have shown that the body's carbon monoxide metabolism is closely linked to the body's circadian (internal) clock. Carbon monoxide, a toxic gas found in exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke, is also an endogenous by-product of the degradation of heme, the hemoglobin cofactor responsible for giving red blood cells their color. The production of carbon monoxide is regulated by the body's internal clock, and this clock, in turn, is regulated by carbon monoxide. An article discussing the close reciprocal relationship between these two regulatory mechanisms has been published in the current issue of the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

A close link between metabolic processes and the body's internal clock ensures that our bodies are optimally adapted to environmental conditions, such as the availability and timing of meals. Cell-based circadian clocks, which detect signals from metabolic processes, also cause the relevant cellular metabolic processes to adapt in response to these signals. The disruption of one of these regulatory mechanisms results in the disruption of the other - a phenomenon manifested by the occurrence of conditions such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome in people whose internal clocks are disrupted e.g. as a result of shift work. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Achim Kramer, Head of the Chronobiology Research Unit at Charité's Institute for Medical Immunology, a team of researchers has been studying the role of heme (the iron-containing red pigment in ) for the body's . Heme is a complex molecule that is part of numerous other proteins and acts as a metabolic sensor.

"Our research has shown that , a that is also a by-product of the degradation of heme, has a crucial role in keeping the body's internal clock ticking as it should," explains Prof. Kramer. He adds: "The production of this molecule inside the cells of the liver can be disrupted through pharmacological inhibition, or by genetically switching off the expression of heme oxygenase - the enzyme required for its synthesis. As a result, normal internal rhythmicity is disrupted, the clock is slowed down." Perturbations of this kind result in the dysregulation of hundreds of different genes, which also happen to be responsible for essential , such as the synthesis of glucose. Results from this study help us to further understand how metabolic disorders and the body's are interlinked. By identifying the molecular mechanisms responsible for the body's circadian rhythms, we may be able to develop targeted therapies.

Explore further: Disrupting the brain's internal clock causes depressive-like behavior in mice

More information: Roman Klemz et al, Reciprocal regulation of carbon monoxide metabolism and the circadian clock, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3331

Related Stories

Disrupting the brain's internal clock causes depressive-like behavior in mice

November 29, 2016
Disruptions of daily rhythms of the body's master internal clock cause depression- and anxiety-like behaviors in mice, reports a new study in Biological Psychiatry. The findings provide insight into the role of the brain's ...

Gut microbe movements regulate host circadian rhythms

December 1, 2016
Even gut microbes have a routine. Like clockwork, they start their day in one part of the intestinal lining, move a few micrometers to the left, maybe the right, and then return to their original position. New research in ...

Kidneys have an innate clock that affects many metabolic processes in the body

April 7, 2016
An internal clock within the kidneys plays an important role in maintaining balance within the body, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

Understanding the genes that make our circadian clocks tick

November 7, 2016
Have you ever wondered why you don't feel tired until late at night but your spouse is fast asleep at 10 p.m. and wakes spontaneously at 6 a.m.?

Protein maintains double duty as key cog in body clock and metabolic control

June 4, 2015
Around-the-clock rhythms guide nearly all physiological processes in animals and plants. Each cell in the body contains special proteins that act on one another in interlocking feedback loops to generate near-24 hour oscillations ...

Recommended for you

Mouse model of human immune system inadequate for stem cell studies

August 22, 2017
A type of mouse widely used to assess how the human immune system responds to transplanted stem cells does not reflect what is likely to occur in patients, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School ...

Scientists find RNA with special role in nerve healing process

August 22, 2017
Scientists may have identified a new opening to intervene in the process of healing peripheral nerve damage with the discovery that an "anti-sense" RNA (AS-RNA) is expressed when nerves are injured. Their experiments in mice ...

Researchers offer new targets for drugs against fatty liver disease and liver cancer

August 22, 2017
There may no silver bullet for treating liver cancer or fatty liver disease, but knowing the right targets will help scientists develop the most effective treatments. Researchers in Sweden have just identified a number of ...

Make way for hemoglobin

August 18, 2017
Every cell in the body, whether skin or muscle or brain, starts out as a generic cell that acquires its unique characteristics after undergoing a process of specialization. Nowhere is this process more dramatic than it is ...

Bio-inspired materials give boost to regenerative medicine

August 18, 2017
What if one day, we could teach our bodies to self-heal like a lizard's tail, and make severe injury or disease no more threatening than a paper cut?

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

0 comments

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.