Hepatic, duodenal, and colonic circadian clocks differ in their persistence under conditions of constant light and in their entrainment by restricted feeding

Chronobiol Int. 2011 Apr;28(3):204-15. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2010.548615.


Physiological functions of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) are temporally controlled such that they exhibit circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythms are synchronized with the environmental light-dark cycle via signaling from the central circadian clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, and by food intake. The aim of the study was to determine the extent to which disturbance in the SCN signaling via prolonged exposure to constant light affects circadian rhythms in the liver, duodenum, and colon, as well as to determine whether and to what extent food intake can restore rhythmicity in individual parts of the GIT. Adult male rats were maintained in constant light (LL) for 30 days and fed ad libitum throughout the entire interval or exposed to a restricted feeding (RF) regime for the last 14 days in LL. Locomotor and feeding behaviors were recorded throughout the experiment. On the 30th day, daily expression profiles of clock genes (Per1, Per2, Rev-erbα, and Bmal1) and of clock-controlled genes (Wee1 and Dbp) were measured by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in the duodenum, colon, and liver. By the end of the LL exposure, rats fed ad libitum had completely lost their circadian rhythms in activity and food intake. Daily expression profiles of clock genes and clock-controlled genes in the GIT were impaired to an extent depending on the tissue and gene studied, but not completely abolished. In the liver and colon, exposure to LL abolished circadian rhythms in expression of Per1, Per2, Bmal1, and Wee1, whereas it impaired, but preserved, rhythms in expression of Rev-erbα and Dbp. In the duodenum, all but Wee1 expression rhythms were preserved. Restricted feeding restored the rhythms to a degree that varied with the tissue and gene studied. Whereas in the liver and duodenum the profiles of all clock genes and clock-controlled genes became rhythmic, in the colon only Per1, Bmal1, and Rev-erbα-but not Per2, Wee1, and Dbp-were expressed rhythmically. The data demonstrate a greater persistence of the rhythmicity of the circadian clocks in the duodenum compared with that in the liver and colon under conditions when signaling from the SCN is disrupted. Moreover, disrupted rhythmicity may be restored more effectively by a feeding regime in the duodenum and liver compared to the colon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Clocks / radiation effects*
  • Colon / physiology
  • Duodenum / physiology*
  • Food Deprivation*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / radiation effects
  • Light
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Photoperiod*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors