UC Irvine-led studies have revealed the cellular mechanism by which circadian rhythms – also known as the body clock – modify energy metabolism and also have identified novel compounds that control this action. The findings point to potential treatments for disorders triggered by circadian rhythm dysfunction, ranging from insomnia and obesity to diabetes and cancer.
UC Irvine’s Paolo Sassone-Corsi, one of the world’s leading researchers on the genetics of circadian rhythms, led the studies and worked with international groups of scientists. Their results are detailed in two companion pieces appearing this week in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (1 , 2).
“Circadian rhythms of 24 hours govern fundamental physiological functions in almost all organisms,” said Sassone-Corsi, the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Chemistry. “The circadian clocks are intrinsic time-tracking systems in our bodies that anticipate environmental changes and adapt themselves to the appropriate time of day. Disruption of these rhythms can profoundly influence human health.”
He added that up to 15 percent of people’s genes are regulated by the day-night pattern of circadian rhythms.