FLICKR, MARTIN PETTITTScientists know that circadian rhythms affect metabolism, but many of the ways in which the timing of eating can influence health are still unknown. Now, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and the Sanford-Burnam Medical Resarch Institute in Florida have shown in mice that the timing of meals affects the levels of triglycerides in the liver. The work was published last week (February 5) in Cell Metabolism.

The researchers analyzed 159 lipids in wild-type mice—which had been on a 12-hour light:dark cycle, but were switched to total darkness for testing—every four hours during a 24-hour period. They found that 27 of the lipids exhibited circadian oscillations, and that of those lipids, the majority were phosphoinositides and triglycerides (TAG), which peaked around eight hours after “sunrise.” In mice in which clock genes were disrupted, the researchers found that TAG accumulation still cycled,...

“The striking outcome of restricted nighttime feeding . . . is of clinical importance,” coauthor Gad Asher of the Weizmann Institute said in a statement. “No currently available drugs have been shown to change lipid accumulation as efficiently and drastically as simply adjusting meal time—not to mention the possible side effects that may be associated with such drugs.”

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!