Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Wrong-time eating reduces fertility in fruit flies

Penn study points to fertility-metabolism connection

Dieticians will tell you it isn't healthy to eat late at night: it's a recipe for weight gain. In fruit flies, at least, there's another consequence: reduced fertility.

That's the conclusion of a new study this week in Cell Metabolism by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in which they manipulated circadian rhythms in fruit flies and measured the affect on egg-laying capacity.

Lead author Amita Sehgal, PhD, John Herr Musser Professor of Neuroscience, stresses, though, that what is true in flies grown in a lab does not necessarily hold for humans, and any potential link between diet and reproduction would have to be independently tested.

"I wouldn't say eating at the wrong time of the day makes people less fertile, though that is the implication," says Sehgal, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "I would say that eating at the wrong time of the day has deleterious consequences for physiology."

It's All Connected

Many aspects of animal biology cycle over the course of a day. Sleep and wakefulness, activity and rest, body temperature, and more, all fluctuate in a pattern called a circadian rhythm. Disruption of these rhythms has been shown to negatively affect physiology. Shift workers, for instance, often suffer from psychological and metabolic issues that colleagues on normal hours do not. Rodents with disrupted circadian rhythms are more likely to develop obesity.

For a while, Sehgal explains, researchers believed animals had a single master molecular clock, located in the brain, that controlled activity throughout the body. In recent years, however, they have come to understand that some individual organs also have their own, independent clocks, like townspeople who wear a wristwatch and keep it synchronized with the clock in city hall.

The mammalian liver is one organ that has its own independent clock. In 2008, Sehgal's team discovered that the fruit fly equivalent of the liver, called the fat body, has its own clock, which controls eating and food storage. They wanted to know what would happen if the fat body clock became desynchronized from the master clock in the brain.

Decoupling Clocks

First, her team asked which fly genes are controlled specifically by the fat body clock. Using gene chip microarrays, they identified 81 genes related to lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, the immune system, and reproduction that fit those criteria.

Next, the researchers attempted to decouple the fat body and central clocks by keeping the flies in constant darkness (to eliminate effects of light on these clocks) and feeding them at times when they don't normally eat. They found the two clocks could be desynchronized: disrupting the animals' feeding cycles altered the cycling of genes controlled by the fat-body clock, but not those regulated by the central clock itself itself.

Finally, the team addressed the functional consequences of this desynchronization, by counting the number of eggs the flies laid under different conditions. Flies fed at the "right" time of the day deposited about 8 eggs per day, compared to about 5 when they fed at the "wrong" time.

"Circadian desynchrony caused by feeding at the 'wrong' time of day leads to a defect in overall reproductive capacity," the authors wrote.

The next question to pursue, Sehgal says, is finding the molecular mechanism that controls this phenomenon: How does the fat body communicate with the ovaries. And, more importantly, is this effect restricted to fruit flies, or does it also occur in higher organisms, including humans.

The research was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Other authors include Penn postdoctoral fellows Kanyan Xu, Justin R. DiAngelo, and Michael E. Hughes, as well as John B. Hogenesch, associate professor of Pharmacology.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4 billion enterprise.

Penn's Perelman School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools and among the top 10 schools for primary care. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $507.6 million awarded in the 2010 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top 10 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2010, Penn Medicine provided $788 million to benefit our community.

Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Mitochondria control stem cell fate
27.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
27.10.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

The gene of autumn colours

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Polymer scaffolds build a better pill to swallow

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>