Metabolism as an Integral Cog in the Mammalian Circadian Clockwork

Gamble, K.L. and Young, M.E. (2013). Metabolism as an Integral Cog in the Mammalian Circadian Clockwork.Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol, 48(4):317-31.




Circadian rhythms are an integral part of life. These rhythms are apparent in virtually all biological processes studies to date, ranging from the individual cell (e.g. DNA synthesis) to the whole organism (e.g. behaviors such as physical activity). Oscillations in metabolism have been characterized extensively in various organisms, including mammals. These metabolic rhythms often parallel behaviors such as sleep/wake and fasting/feeding cycles that occur on a daily basis.

What has become increasingly clear over the past several decades is that many metabolic oscillations are driven by cell-autonomous circadian clocks, which orchestrate metabolic processes in a temporally appropriate manner. During the process of identifying the mechanisms by which clocks influence metabolism, molecular-based studies have revealed that metabolism should be considered an integral circadian clock component. The implications of such an interrelationship include the establishment of a vicious cycle during cardiometabolic disease states, wherein metabolism-induced perturbations in the circadian clock exacerbate metabolic dysfunction. The purpose of this review is therefore to highlight recent insights gained regarding links between cell-autonomous circadian clocks and metabolism and the implications of clock dysfunction in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases.


Eating habits are often affected in those suffering from mental disorders. A better understanding of the influence of time-of-day on the metabolic outcomes of food consumption may guide informed recommendations for patients struggling with behavioral modification of eating habits.