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Low oxygen resets the body clock

Nature volume 539, page 8 (03 November 2016) | Download Citation

Cutting ambient oxygen levels helps mice to recover from a situation similar to jet lag.

In mammals, circadian clocks synchronize metabolism according to the day–night cycle. Gad Asher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and his colleagues found that the amount of oxygen in the blood and kidneys of rodents varies with the time of day. Tests in cultured mouse cells showed that rhythmic fluctuations in oxygen levels synchronized the circadian clock; this seemed to happen through HIF1α, a protein known to be an oxygen sensor. Mice exposed to a cycle of light and dark that was shifted by six hours to mimic jet lag adapted faster to the new conditions when ambient oxygen levels were decreased either before or after the shift.

Modulation of oxygen levels could be a future therapy for jet lag, say the authors.

Cell Metab. (2016)

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