HomeScience and ResearchScientific ResearchLiver Cells: The Hidden Regulators of Our Internal Clock?

Liver Cells: The Hidden Regulators of Our Internal Clock?

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A new study led by the University of Queensland uncovers the surprising influence of liver cells on the body’s internal circadian rhythm, challenging the exclusive role of the brain.

Research spearheaded by the University of Queensland has uncovered a surprising role of liver cells in influencing the body’s internal circadian clock. Until now, the prevalent belief was that the brain held exclusive control over this clock.

In this transformative study, Associate Professor Frédéric Gachon from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, along with Dr. Serge Luquet from Université Paris Cité/CNRS in France and their research team, presented evidence that mice receiving transplanted human liver cells exhibited altered circadian rhythms.

The research findings were published in the esteemed Science Advances journal.

According to Dr. Gachon, the internal circadian clock governs a majority of biological processes. These encompass sleep patterns, hormone release, body temperature regulation, and metabolism.

“Mice are nocturnal but when their liver cells were replaced with human cells, their circadian clock advanced by two hours,” adds Dr. Gahchon, “they ate and slept at different times to mice without those transplanted cells.

“The mice in our study started to eat and be active before night-time began, which is very unusual for a nocturnal animal.”

Before this point, it was widely accepted that the coordination of the mammalian circadian rhythm was solely governed by a central timekeeping system consisting of a cluster of neurons known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

However, according to Dr. Gachon, the new study reveals that human liver cells, when transplanted into a mouse, can indeed interact with this central clock, leading to alterations in circadian patterns.

Conditions like liver disease and metabolic disorders, including diabetes and obesity, have been linked to sleep disturbances, irregular dietary habits, and disruptions in the body’s internal clock.

The current study indicates that dysfunctional liver operations could be the primary contributor to these rhythm disturbances.

“Our study deepens our understanding of the hormonal and neuronal mechanisms involved in the role of the liver in controlling circadian rhythms.”

The study indicates that enhancing liver function could potentially improve patient health and quality of life.

Additionally, it reveals the unexpected intricacy in the regulation of our body’s internal clock, opening doors for the exploration of novel therapeutic strategies for metabolic disorders.

Image Credit: Getty

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