To investigate the role of the circadian clock in the development of alcohol-induced fatty liver disease we examined livers of mice chronically alcohol-fed over 4-weeks that resulted in steatosis. Here we show time-of-day specific changes in expression of clock genes and clock-controlled genes, including those associated with lipid and bile acid regulation. Such changes were not observed following a 1-week alcohol treatment with no hepatic lipid accumulation. Real-time bioluminescence reporting of PERIOD2 protein expression suggests that these changes occur independently of the suprachiasmatic nucleus pacemaker. Further, we find profound time-of-day specific changes to the rhythmic synthesis/accumulation of triglycerides, cholesterol and bile acid, and the NAD/NADH ratio, processes that are under clock control. These results highlight not only that the circadian timekeeping system is disturbed in the alcohol-induced hepatic steatosis state, but also that the effects of alcohol upon the clock itself may actually contribute to the development of hepatic steatosis.
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