Exploring Links between Circadian Rhythms and Healthy Aging Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/cn69m6104

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  • Circadian rhythms are the daily oscillations in multiple organism functions, from clock gene expression to behavior. Lost or irregular rhythms lead to health problems later in life including nervous system disorders, abnormal sleep/activity cycles, diabetes and obesity. However, it is not known whether strengthening the expression of clock genes throughout lifespan could delay health problems and aging. The goal of my thesis was to determine if strong circadian systems are important for health span and lifespan in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Restricted feeding (RF) was tested to see if offering nutrients to the flies for a specific duration of time each day could cause an increase in lifespan by strengthening expression of clock genes. Although no lifespan extension was observed through RF, feeding at normal circadian times resulted in an extension in lifespan compared to feeding at abnormal times under stressful levels of nutrient intake. It was also confirmed that oscillations of clock genes are strengthened upon RF at normal circadian times. Further investigation showed that maintaining and strengthening clock function during times of stressful nutrient intake may help to improve metabolism and storage of lipids. This research provides new information on the connection between restricted feeding regimes and their effects on longevity and circadian rhythms.
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