US scientists have found out that mice with a mutation of a gene that controls the circadian clock tend to eat more and gain weight.
The circadian clock is a cellular mechanism that sets various rhythmic activities inside the organisms. It is this clock that sets the rhythm of sleep and wake patterns in all animals.
In earlier studies, scientists had been able to find out that circadian clock controls sleep, hunger and other biological processes from the brain structure of thalamus. There also been an association between disrupted sleep patterns to weight gain, diabetes and metabolic disturbance. The new study researchers have found out that reduced levels of the hormone ghrelin in the hypothalamus of the mice genetically changed had caused them to be active when the rest of the species sleep.
The gene that was modified in the mice were called the clock gene and these mice had showed a new setoff behavior patters like increased hunger, and physiological manifestations like obesity, diabetes, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, and insulin resistance.
The study is being published in the journal Science Express of this month.
Reference: Journal Science Express, April 2005