Surrey researchers have discovered how the receptors responsible for contractions in the bladder regulate the body’s clock genes.
The research, published in The FASEB Journal, found that this clock activity in turn regulates the cycle of all cells in the body, and challenges the long-held view that the central clock of the brain controls the peripheral clocks in other parts of the body (which in turn control the down-stream receptor molecules which generate specific cell activities, such as contraction, secretion and metabolism).
The control of organ function via an interaction between the peripheral clocks and the receiving receptors is an important finding for understanding the pathology and development of new treatments for common diseases of the bladder, such as bladder overactivity and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The study could also help to advance understanding of how ageing affects organ function in the body, as the normal control of daily rhythms by the clock is weakened in ageing tissue.
“Previously, people have believed that the brain ‘master’ clock controls the ‘slave’ peripheral clocks, but our study is the first to show that in a contractile organ, such as the bladder, its receptors also control these clocks,” said lead author Dr Changhao Wu, who worked on the paper with senior author Dr Ying Chen.
“By influencing the receptors in the bladder, we can also change our clock genes. These clocks are crucial in maintaining our physiological rhythm and preventing unwanted activities associated with an overactive bladder.”