Characterising 24-h skeletal muscle gene expression alongside metabolic & endocrine responses under diurnal conditions

Harry Smith, Iain Templeman, Max Davis, Tommy Slater, David Clayton, Ian Varley, Lewis James, Benita Middleton, Jonathan Johnston, Leonidas G Karagounis, Kostas Tsintzas, Dylan Thompson, Javier Gonzalez, Jean-Philippe Walhin, James Betts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Skeletal muscle plays a central role in the storage, synthesis, and breakdown of nutrients, yet little research has explored temporal responses of this human tissue, especially with concurrent measures of systemic biomarkers of metabolism.

Objective: To characterise temporal profiles in skeletal muscle expression of genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism, circadian clocks, and autophagy and descriptively relate them to systemic metabolites and hormones during a controlled laboratory protocol.

Methods: Ten healthy adults (9M/1F, mean ± SD: age: 30 ± 10 y; BMI: 24.1 ± 2.7 kg·m-2) rested in the laboratory for 37 hours with all data collected during the final 24 hours of this period (i.e., 0800-0800 h). Participants ingested hourly isocaloric liquid meal replacements alongside appetite assessments during waking before a sleep opportunity from 2200-0700 h. Blood samples were collected hourly for endocrine and metabolite analyses, with muscle biopsies occurring every 4 h from 1200 h to 0800 h the following day to quantify gene expression.

Results: Plasma insulin displayed diurnal rhythmicity peaking at 1804 h. Expression of skeletal muscle genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism (Name – Acrophase; GLUT4 - 1440 h; PPARGC1A –1613 h; HK2 - 1824 h) and lipid metabolism (FABP3 - 1237 h; PDK4 - 0530 h; CPT1B - 1258 h) displayed 24 h rhythmicity that reflected the temporal rhythm of insulin. Equally, circulating glucose (0019 h), NEFA (0456 h), glycerol (0432 h), triglyceride (2314 h), urea (0046 h), CTX (0507 h) and cortisol concentrations (2250 h) also all displayed diurnal rhythmicity.

Conclusion: Diurnal rhythms were present in human skeletal muscle gene expression as well systemic metabolites and hormones under controlled diurnal conditions. The temporal patterns of genes relating to carbohydrate and lipid metabolism alongside circulating insulin are consistent with diurnal rhythms being driven in part by the diurnal influence of cyclic feeding and fasting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
Early online date23 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2024

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