New Horizons: Circadian Control of Metabolism Offers Novel Insight Into the Cause and Treatment of Metabolic Diseases

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Mar 8;106(3):e1488-e1493. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgaa691.


Metabolic homeostasis is achieved by endocrine factors, signaling cascades, and metabolic pathways that sense and respond to metabolic demands in different organs. However, the recent discovery that almost every component of this regulatory system is also modulated by circadian rhythm highlights novel etiology and prognosis of metabolic diseases. First, chronic circadian rhythm disruption, as in shiftwork or shiftwork-like lifestyle, can increase the risk for metabolic diseases. Second, by understanding factors that affect circadian rhythm, we can implement new behavioral or pharmacological interventions for the prevention and management of metabolic disorders. One of these novel circadian-based interventions is time-restricted eating (TRE) in which all daily caloric intake is restricted to a consistent window of 8 to 12 hours. In preclinical animal models, TRE can prevent or reverse many metabolic diseases. Circadian research has also catalyzed attempts to optimally time the dosing of existing drugs to treat metabolic diseases or develop new drugs that target the circadian clock to treat metabolic disorders.

Keywords: circadian clock; circadian rhythm; intermittent fasting; melatonin; time-restricted feeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases* / etiology
  • Metabolic Diseases* / therapy