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Meal times may have significant impact on liver fats and metabolism: Mouse data

Alterations to meal times may have a significant effect on the levels of triglycerides in the liver, according to new research that links such effects to a range of metabolic conditions.

The study, published in Cell Metabolism, investigated the role of circadian clocks and meal timings in lipid homeostasis, by performing lipidomic analysis of liver tissues from wild-type and clock-disrupted mice either fed ad libitum or night fed.

Led by Yaarit Adamovich and colleagues at the Weizmann Institute's Biological Chemistry Department, the team measured the levels of hundreds of different lipids present in the mouse liver - finding that levels of triglycerides (TAG) in the liver were reduced by 50% in mice that were fed during the night-time only.

"The striking outcome of restricted nighttime feeding -- lowering liver TAG levels in the very short time period of 10 days in the mice -- is of clinical importance,” explained Asher. “Hyperlipidemia and hypertriglyceridemia are common diseases characterized by abnormally elevated levels of lipids in blood and liver cells, which lead to fatty liver and other metabolic diseases."

“Yet no currently available drugs have been shown to change lipid accumulation as efficiently and drastically as simply adjusting meal time -- not to mention the possible side effects that may be associated with such drugs."

Of course, mice are nocturnal animals, so in order to construe these results for humans, the timetable would need to be reversed, the team added.

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