Body clock can be reset to eliminate jet lag, say scientists
Researchers from the University of Manchester have discovered a new mechanism that governs how body clocks react to changes in the environment, which could provide a solution for alleviating the detrimental effects of chronic shift work and jet-lag.
The team's findings reveal that the enzyme casein kinase 1epsilon (CK1epsilon) controls how easily the body's clockwork can be adjusted or reset by environmental cues such as light and temperature.
Internal biological timers (circadian clocks) are found in almost every species on the planet. In mammals including humans, circadian clocks are found in most cells and tissues of the body, and orchestrate daily rhythms in our physiology, including our sleep/wake patterns and metabolism.
"At the heart of these clocks are a complex set of molecules whose interaction provides robust and precise 24 hour timing. Importantly, our clocks are kept in synchrony with the environment by being responsive to light and dark information," Dr David Bechtold, who led The University of Manchester's research team, said.
The research identifies a new mechanism through which our clocks respond to these light inputs.
During the study, mice lacking CK1epsilon, a component of the clock, were able to shift to a new light-dark environment (much like the experience in shift work or long-haul air travel) much faster than normal.
The research team went on to show that drugs that inhibit CK1epsilon were able to speed up shift responses of normal mice, and critically, that faster adaption to the new environment minimised metabolic disturbances caused by the time shift.
The research is set to be published in Current Biology.
(Posted on 22-03-2014)