Study shows how drinking patterns reprogram circadian metabolism in the liver

Drinking alcohol is a widespread habit in modern society and can have serious metabolic consequences. Recent studies have uncovered the interplay between nutrition, metabolism and circadian rhythms. But, until now, little has been done to understand the effects of alcohol consumption on circadian metabolism.

The study, titled, "Distinct Metabolic Adaptation of Liver Circadian Pathways to Acute and Chronic Patterns of Alcohol Intake," was published today in Proceedings of National Academies of Science.

For the study, researchers used mice to analyze the effects of binge and chronic exposure to ethanol. They revealed that distinct drinking patterns elicit profoundly different effects through distinct cellular pathways, leading to differential adaptation of hepatic circadian metabolism.

Our results showed how drinking patterns reprogrammed circadian metabolism in the liver. By understanding how the circadian process is involved in alcoholic liver disease, we can begin to target circadian therapeutics to develop better treatments."

Paolo Sassone-Corsi, director of the UCI School of Medicine Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism and senior author of the study

In earlier studies, Sassone-Corsi examined how circadian clocks can be rewired by such factors as sleep deprivation, diet and exercise. He has also discovered that the circadian clock in the liver has intrinsic functions that are independent from other organs in the body, including the brain.

This study underscores the link between circadian rhythms and alcohol metabolism. When consumed, alcohol is primarily metabolized in the liver and is a prominent risk factor for the development of ALDs which include alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer, among others.

Journal reference:

Gaucher, J., et al. (2019) Distinct metabolic adaptation of liver circadian pathways to acute and chronic patterns of alcohol intake. PNAS.


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