With my research projects dwindling in number, I’ve found some more time now to read the tens of Science journals lying around the lab. In a recent issue of Science, Joe Takahashi, an infamous chronobiologist known for inventing one of the first clock gene mutant mouse lines, and Joseph Bass discussed current research tying circadian rhythm disregulation to metabolic pathologies. This schematic from the paper nicely summarizes what we know and what we don’t know to date. It is evident from this schematic of direct signaling between circadian regulation and metabolic cascades.

While reading the review, I found these finding to be most salient (and unsurprising):
ResearchBlogging.org1. Ablating clock gene rhythms (PER2, BMAL1) leads to reduced glucose tolerance and impaired leptin release (i.e. OBESITY)
2. Loss of orexigenic cells which drive wakefulness were also linked to obesity

Of course, this review was written for shift workers and their bosses, hinting that aside from the vast cognitive impairments arising from shift work, misalignment of bodily cues with the environment has assiduous physiological effects as well (for employers, this means more money allocated towards employee health care).

Bass J, & Takahashi JS (2010). Circadian integration of metabolism and energetics. Science (New York, N.Y.), 330 (6009), 1349-54 PMID: 21127246