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article imageTemperature throws the body clock back and forth by one hour

By Tim Sandle     Dec 7, 2015 in Science
New York - The internal body clock is finely tuned and disruptions are associated with a range of diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease (which is a concern for shift workers). Changes to temperature can also disrupt the fine balance.
Most, if not all, living organisms function to a 24-hour cycle. This is governed by an internal body clock, or circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are thought to affect every cell in the human body and disruption has been implicated in obesity and cancer.
The body clock can be disrupted, such as through long-haul flights or by those undertaking nightshifts (as Digital Journal has reported on previously.) Another factor that exerts influence on the internal mechanism is temperature. Researchers have found that warming and cooling can cause the clock to shift forward or backward; however, temperature cannot shorten or lengthen the 24-hour cycle.
Using computational analysis, researchers have found temperature-induced shifts to the internal body clock involve genetic pathways. These findings were then used to run a series of molecular studies using fruit flies as the model organism. Here they studied how concentrations of a protein dubbed “Timeless,” changed with temperature (a pair of proteins termed “Period” and “Timeless” are transcribed from the genes of fruit flies.)
The study showed “Timeless”, at the three different temperatures, shifted about and changed shape. While the study may seem abstract, the findings could have implications for workers and different conditions within which people spend prolonged periods of time.
The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper is headed “Temperature compensation and temperature sensation in the circadian clock.”
In related news, scientists have found that drinking a strong dose of coffee (such as a double espresso) three hours before going to sleep affects the body clock, sending it back by about an hour. This can, perhaps unsurprisingly, cause disruption to sleep.
More about body clock, Temperature, circadian rhythms, Circadian
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