Our lives are regulated by a complex biological clock that controls our circadian rhythms. The master clock is located in our hypothalamus and functions to ensure that specific proteins are turned on or off at the right times. These functions are important not only for cell function, but also for proliferation and survival of species. Of concern to our health is the notion that changes in our exposure to environmental light can alter our clock. Something that many night shift workers can attest to. The problem with altering the clock is that it can lead to a number of metabolic diseases.
In a recent paper published in Physiology, Dr. Matveyenko discusses how problems with reproducibility in research may be related at least in part to circadian rhythms. A potential issue with relying on data collected from rodents is that the animals are nocturnal. Like us, rodents have circadian rhythms and research has shown that mice are more tolerant of agents that induce inflammation during the night (their wake cycle) as compared to during the day (their sleep cycle). In fact, data suggest that close to half of all genes that encode for proteins have circadian rhythms in rodents. Ambient light leaking into the animal rooms at night can also act as an endocrine disruptor. The tendency to ignore natural circadian rhythms in research may contribute to the issue of reproducibility.
Categories: Comparative Physiology