Now researchers, including a University of Washington biologist, have found hints that differing molecular processes in an area of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus might play a significant role in those jet lag differences.
Human circadian clocks operate on a period about 20 minutes longer than one day and so must be synchronized to the light-dark cycle of the solar day, delaying or advancing their time in response to light.
Someone whose clock runs faster than a solar day must delay it on a daily basis, and someone whose clock runs slower than a solar day must advance it. These daily adjustments happen naturally, and without our noticing, but the process is disrupted by sudden large shifts in the light-dark cycle because of a radically new geographic location.
Researchers previously learned that delaying the circadian clock happens through different pathways in the suprachiasmatic nucleus than advancing the clock does. The new research shows that, at a molecular level, the mechanisms responsible for resetting the expression of the “clock genes” are drastically different.
“We have known for decades that, in humans and other organisms, advances are always much harder to achieve than delays. For example, compare jet lag going to Europe with that coming back,” said Horacio de la Iglesia, a UW associate professor of biology.
“One of the reasons may be that these two forms of resetting the clock involve different molecular mechanisms at the clock level,” he said.
de la Iglesia and William Schwartz of the University of Massachusetts Medical School are corresponding authors of a paper detailing the research, published online recently (Oct. 3) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-authors are Mahboubeh Tavakoli-Nezhad, Christopher Lambert and David Weaver, also of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The researchers exposed hamsters to two light-dark cycles, one of 23.33 hours and the other at 24.67 hours, to test the mechanisms that advance and delay the circadian clock. A one-hour light pulse in the shorter cycle acted as dawn, but in the longer cycle it acted as dusk. The scientists confirmed that the pulse of light at dawn advanced the animals’ circadian clocks, while the light at dusk delayed the clocks.
The results suggest that different molecular mechanisms in the suprachiasmatic nucleus are at work when the circadian clocks are advanced than when the clocks are delayed, de la Iglesia said.
That could provide clues for understanding how circadian clocks work in nocturnal animals in natural conditions, and it could help in understanding potential remedies for jet lag.
The work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
For more information, contact de la Iglesia at 206-616-4697, 206-616-3932 or email@example.com, or Schwartz at 508-856-5666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An abstract of the paper is available at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/09/29/1107848108.abstract
Vince Stricherz | Newswise Science News
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences