The circadian rhythm of the liver maintains glucose homeostasis, and disruption of this rhythm is associated with type 2 diabetes. Feeding is one factor that sets the circadian clock in peripheral tissues, but relatively little is known about the role of specific dietary components in that regard. We assessed the effects of dietary iron on circadian gluconeogenesis. Dietary iron affects circadian glucose metabolism through heme-mediated regulation of the interaction of nuclear receptor subfamily 1 group d member 1 (Rev-Erbα) with its cosuppressor nuclear receptor corepressor 1 (NCOR). Loss of regulated heme synthesis was achieved by aminolevulinic acid (ALA) treatment of mice or cultured cells to bypass the rate-limiting enzyme in hepatic heme synthesis, ALA synthase 1 (ALAS1). ALA treatment abolishes differences in hepatic glucose production and in the expression of gluconeogenic enzymes seen with variation of dietary iron. The differences among diets are also lost with inhibition of heme synthesis with isonicotinylhydrazine. Dietary iron modulates levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), a transcriptional activator of ALAS1, to affect hepatic heme. Treatment of mice with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine diminishes PGC-1α variation observed among the iron diets, suggesting that iron is acting through reactive oxygen species signaling.
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