Journal of Applied Physiology

Rev-erb-α: an integrator of circadian rhythms and metabolism

Hélène Duez, Bart Staels


The endogenous circadian clock ensures daily rhythms in diverse behavioral and physiological processes, including locomotor activity and sleep/wake cycles, but also food intake patterns. Circadian rhythms are generated by an internal clock system, which synchronizes these daily variations to the day/night alternance. In addition, circadian oscillations may be reset by the time of food availability in peripheral metabolic organs. Circadian rhythms are seen in many metabolic pathways (glucose and lipid metabolism, etc.) and endocrine secretions (insulin, etc.). As a consequence, misalignment of the internal timing system vs. environmental zeitgebers (light, for instance), as experienced during jetlag or shift work, may result in disruption of physiological cycles of fuel utilization or energy storage. A large body of evidence from both human and animal studies now points to a relationship between circadian disorders and altered metabolic response, suggesting that circadian and metabolic regulatory networks are tightly connected. After a review of the current understanding of the molecular circadian core clock, we will discuss the hypothesis that clock genes themselves link the core molecular clock and metabolic regulatory networks. We propose that the nuclear receptor and core clock component Rev-erb-α behaves as a gatekeeper to timely coordinate the circadian metabolic response.

  • circadian rhythm
  • metabolic disorders
  • biological clock
  • metabolic syndrome
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