The Body Has Independent Rhythms from the Mind, Says Study
Can your liver sense when you’re staring at a television screen or cellphone late at night? Apparently so, and when such activity is detected, the organ can throw your circadian rhythms out of whack, leaving you more susceptible to health problems.
That’s one of the takeaways from two new studies by University of California, Irvine scientists working in collaboration with the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain.
“The results were quite surprising,” said Sassone-Corsi, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Chemistry.
“No one realized that the liver or skin could be so directly affected by light.”
For example, despite the shutdown of all other body clocks, including the central brain clock, the liver knew what time it was, responded to light changes as day shifted to night and maintained critical functions, such as preparing to digest food at mealtime and converting glucose to energy.
Somehow, the liver’s circadian clock was able to detect light, presumably via signals from other organs.
Only when the mice were subjected to constant darkness did the liver’s clock stop functioning.
“The future implications of our findings are vast,” Sassone-Corsi said.
“With these mice, we can now begin deciphering the metabolic pathways that control our circadian rhythms, aging processes and general well-being.”
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