PloS one

Increased sensitivity of the circadian system to temporal changes in the feeding regime of spontaneously hypertensive rats - a potential role for Bmal2 in the liver.

PMID 24086613


The mammalian timekeeping system generates circadian oscillations that rhythmically drive various functions in the body, including metabolic processes. In the liver, circadian clocks may respond both to actual feeding conditions and to the metabolic state. The temporal restriction of food availability to improper times of day (restricted feeding, RF) leads to the development of food anticipatory activity (FAA) and resets the hepatic clock accordingly. The aim of this study was to assess this response in a rat strain exhibiting complex pathophysiological symptoms involving spontaneous hypertension, an abnormal metabolic state and changes in the circadian system, i.e., in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). The results revealed that SHR were more sensitive to RF compared with control rats, developing earlier and more pronounced FAA. Whereas in control rats, the RF only redistributed the activity profiles into two bouts (one corresponding to FAA and the other corresponding to the dark phase), in SHR the RF completely phase-advanced the locomotor activity according to the time of food presentation. The higher behavioral sensitivity to RF was correlated with larger phase advances of the hepatic clock in response to RF in SHR. Moreover, in contrast to the controls, RF did not suppress the amplitude of the hepatic clock oscillation in SHR. In the colon, no significant differences in response to RF between the two rat strains were detected. The results suggested the possible involvement of the Bmal2 gene in the higher sensitivity of the hepatic clock to RF in SHR because, in contrast to the Wistar rats, the rhythm of Bmal2 expression was advanced similarly to that of Bmal1 under RF. Altogether, the data demonstrate a higher behavioral and circadian responsiveness to RF in the rat strain with a cardiovascular and metabolic pathology and suggest a likely functional role for the Bmal2 gene within the circadian clock.