Chronic Ethanol Consumption Disrupts the Core Molecular Clock and Diurnal Rhythms of Metabolic Genes in the Liver without Affecting the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus

Academic Article


  • Chronic ethanol consumption disrupts several metabolic pathways including β-oxidation and lipid biosynthesis, facilitating the development of alcoholic fatty liver disease. Many of these same metabolic pathways are directly regulated by cell autonomous circadian clocks, and recent studies suggest that disruption of daily rhythms in metabolism contributes to multiple common cardiometabolic diseases (including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). However, it is not known whether ethanol disrupts the core molecular clock in the liver, nor whether this, in turn, alters rhythms in lipid metabolism. Herein, we tested the hypothesis that chronic ethanol consumption disrupts the molecular circadian clock in the liver and potentially changes the diurnal expression patterns of lipid metabolism genes. Consistent with previous studies, male C57BL/6J mice fed an ethanol-containing diet exhibited higher levels of liver triglycerides compared to control mice, indicating hepatic steatosis. Further, the diurnal oscillations of core clock genes (Bmal1, Clock, Cry1, Cry2, Per1, and Per2) and clock-controlled genes (Dbp, Hlf, Nocturnin, Npas2, Rev-erbα, and Tef) were altered in livers from ethanol-fed mice. In contrast, ethanol had only minor effects on the expression of core clock genes in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). These results were confirmed in Per2Luciferase knock-in mice, in which ethanol induced a phase advance in PER2::LUC bioluminescence oscillations in liver, but not SCN. Further, there was greater variability in the phase of PER2::LUC oscillations in livers from ethanol-fed mice. Ethanol consumption also affected the diurnal oscillations of metabolic genes, including Adh1, Cpt1a, Cyp2e1, Pck1, Pdk4, Ppargc1a, Ppargc1b and Srebp1c, in the livers of C57BL/6J mice. In summary, chronic ethanol consumption alters the function of the circadian clock in liver. Importantly, these results suggest that chronic ethanol consumption, at levels sufficient to cause steatosis, disrupts the core hepatic clock as well as the diurnal rhythms of key lipid metabolism genes. © 2013 Filiano et al.
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Filiano AN; Millender-Swain T; Johnson R; Young ME; Gamble KL; Bailey SM
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 8