Background: In humans, skipping meals, especially breakfast, has been associated with obesity and other related syndromes. Recent studies in rodents suggest that fasting and feeding times are potential factors that affect the peripheral circadian clocks and metabolism. However, the link between fasting and obesity in rodents has yet to be fully demonstrated.
Method: We conducted early nocturnal fasting (ENF) from zeitgeber time (ZT) 12 to 18 for 4 consecutive days in C57B6 mice. The first set of experiments was performed under ad libitum conditions, where ENF and free-feeding (FF) control groups were compared. The second set was performed under isocaloric adjustment by restricting the diet to 90% of the basal intake of ENF mice. Calorie-restricted ENF (ENF-CR) mice were then compared with isocaloric controls (IC-control). Body weight, food intake, core body temperature, activity, adiposity, and clock-related gene expression levels in the liver and adipose tissues were investigated. A stable isotopic analysis was also conducted to estimate de novo lipogenesis fluxes.
Results: In the ad libitum condition, the ENF mice ate more during the day, increased their overall daily food intake and gained more weight than FF-control mice. The amplitude of the body core temperature rhythm in ENF mice was also lower than in the FF-controls. Under isocaloric conditions, ENF-CR attenuated the CR-induced body weight loss, compared with the IC-control. ENF-CR also altered the acrophase time of the expression of the clock genes, which is associated with time-shift of genes involved in lipid metabolism and increased lipogenesis, compared with the IC-control.
Conclusions: ENF in nocturnal mice disturbs the peripheral clock and increases de novo lipid synthesis and results in a predisposition to obesity.