Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Differences in jet lag severity could be rooted in how circadian clock sets itself

Date:
October 13, 2011
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Researchers have found hints that differing molecular processes in one area of the brain might play a significant role in the differences of jet lag severity between long-distance west-to-east travel and east-to-west travel.

It's no secret that long-distance, west-to-east air travel -- Seattle to Paris, for example -- can raise havoc with a person's sleep and waking patterns, and that the effects are substantially less pronounced when traveling in the opposite direction.

Now researchers, including a University of Washington biologist, have found hints that differing molecular processes in an area of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus might play a significant role in those jet lag differences.

Human circadian clocks operate on a period about 20 minutes longer than one day and so must be synchronized to the light-dark cycle of the solar day, delaying or advancing their time in response to light.

Someone whose clock runs faster than a solar day must delay it on a daily basis, and someone whose clock runs slower than a solar day must advance it. These daily adjustments happen naturally, and without our noticing, but the process is disrupted by sudden large shifts in the light-dark cycle because of a radically new geographic location.

Researchers previously learned that delaying the circadian clock happens through different pathways in the suprachiasmatic nucleus than advancing the clock does. The new research shows that, at a molecular level, the mechanisms responsible for resetting the expression of the "clock genes" are drastically different.

"We have known for decades that, in humans and other organisms, advances are always much harder to achieve than delays. For example, compare jet lag going to Europe with that coming back," said Horacio de la Iglesia, a UW associate professor of biology.

"One of the reasons may be that these two forms of resetting the clock involve different molecular mechanisms at the clock level," he said.

de la Iglesia and William Schwartz of the University of Massachusetts Medical School are corresponding authors of a paper detailing the research, published online recently (Oct. 3) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-authors are Mahboubeh Tavakoli-Nezhad, Christopher Lambert and David Weaver, also of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The researchers exposed hamsters to two light-dark cycles, one of 23.33 hours and the other at 24.67 hours, to test the mechanisms that advance and delay the circadian clock. A one-hour light pulse in the shorter cycle acted as dawn, but in the longer cycle it acted as dusk. The scientists confirmed that the pulse of light at dawn advanced the animals' circadian clocks, while the light at dusk delayed the clocks.

The results suggest that different molecular mechanisms in the suprachiasmatic nucleus are at work when the circadian clocks are advanced than when the clocks are delayed, de la Iglesia said.

That could provide clues for understanding how circadian clocks work in nocturnal animals in natural conditions, and it could help in understanding potential remedies for jet lag.

The work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. J. Schwartz, M. Tavakoli-Nezhad, C. M. Lambert, D. R. Weaver, H. O. de la Iglesia. Distinct patterns of Period gene expression in the suprachiasmatic nucleus underlie circadian clock photoentrainment by advances or delays. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; 108 (41): 17219 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1107848108

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Differences in jet lag severity could be rooted in how circadian clock sets itself." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111013121713.htm>.
University of Washington. (2011, October 13). Differences in jet lag severity could be rooted in how circadian clock sets itself. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111013121713.htm
University of Washington. "Differences in jet lag severity could be rooted in how circadian clock sets itself." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111013121713.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins