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Chronic Drinking Disrupts Liver’s Circadian Clock, Contributes to Alcoholic Liver Disease

Tampa, Fla. (September 10, 2015)—The activity of an organ in the body changes through the day and is governed by its internal clock, also known as a circadian clock. Staying on a circadian schedule is important for health, and disruptions lead to disease. Previous studies have supported that chronic drinking damages the liver by compromising the mitochondria, the site in cells where molecules that power the body’s processes are made, slowing down the production of these molecules. New research presented at Physiological Bionergetics: From Bench to Bedside reports that the damage occurs because of the effects of chronic alcohol consumption on the liver’s circadian clock.

In this study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham observed that the levels of proteins involved in mitochondrial function and energy production changed cyclically in the livers of healthy mice. In contrast, alcohol-fed mice had rhythm changes, and the rhythmic cycle of one particular mitochondrial protein, cytochrome c oxidase, was completely lost. According to the researchers, the data support that liver mitochondria can adapt to changes in metabolic demands because of their internal clock. Chronic alcohol consumption disrupts the clock and makes the mitochondria less flexible and prone to dysfunction, contributing to the development of alcoholic liver disease.

Jennifer Valcin, MS, doctoral researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will present “The liver molecular circadian clock in chronic alcohol-induced mitochondrial dysfunction” as part of the symposium “Mitochondria on the Move: Networking in Health and Disease” on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 11:25 AM EDT in the Harbour Island Ballroom and at the poster session later that day from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in Terrace of the Westin Tampa Harbour Island.

This work was conducted in the laboratory and with the mentorship of Shannon M. Bailey, PhD, professor of pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To read the full abstract or to schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.



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