Rapidly alternating photoperiods disrupt central and peripheral rhythmicity and decrease plasma glucose, but do not affect glucose tolerance or insulin secretion in sheep

Tamara J. Varcoe, Kathryn L. Gatford, Athena Voultsios, Mark D. Salkeld, Michael J. Boden, Leewen Rattanatray, David J. Kennaway

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Adult ewes (n = 7) underwent 3 weeks of a control 12 h light-12 h dark photoperiod, followed by 4 weeks of rapidly alternating photoperiods (RAPs) whereby the time of light exposure was reversed twice each week. Measures of central (melatonin secretion and core body temperature) and peripheral rhythmicity (clock and metabolic gene expression in skeletal muscle) were obtained over 24 h in both conditions. Metabolic homeostasis was assessed by glucose tolerance tests and 24 h glucose and insulin profiles. Melatonin and core body temperature rhythms resynchronized within 2 days of the last photoperiod shift. High-amplitude Bmal1, Clock, Nr1d1, Cry2 and Per3 mRNA rhythms were apparent in skeletal muscle, which were phase advanced by up to 3.5 h at 2 days after the last phase shift, whereas Per1 expression was downregulated at this time. Pparα, Pgc1α and Nampt mRNA were constitutively expressed in both conditions. Nocturnal glucose concentrations were reduced following chronic phase shifts (zeitgeber time 0, -5.5%; zeitgeber time 12, -2.9%; and zeitgeber time 16, -5.7%), whereas plasma insulin, glucose tolerance and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion were not altered. These results demonstrate that clock gene expression within ovine skeletal muscle oscillates over 24 h and responds to changing photoperiods. However, metabolic genes which link circadian and metabolic clocks in rodents were arrhythmic in sheep. Differences may be due to the ruminant versus monogastric digestive organization in each species. Together, these results demonstrate that despite disruptions to central and peripheral rhythmicity following exposure to rapidly alternating photoperiods, there was minimal impact on glucose homeostasis in the sheep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1214-1228
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)

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