My research project
Metabolic profiling in health and disease
Metabolomics measures metabolic changes in organisms and integrates this information from the genome and the proteome. An intertwined relationship exists between the circadian clock timing system and the metabolome.
To understand the link between circadian misalignment and metabolic disorders, characterising metabolites that are truly circadian controlled rather than influenced by exogenous factors are important to determine. Previously, LC-MS targeted metabolomics approaches have been used to understand the effect of time of day and total effect of sleep deprivation. Also, studies have been performed in male participants to identify circadian metabolites. Here, we use a constant routine protocol to minimise exogenous factors and use LC-MS targeted metabolomics approach to identify metabolites that are truly driven by the internal clock in healthy young males and females.
Misalignment between internal circadian rhythmicity and externally imposed behavioral schedules, such as occurs in shift workers, has been implicated in elevated risk of metabolic disorders. To determine underlying mechanisms, it is esse ntial to assess whether and how peripheral clocks are disturbed during shift work and to what extent this is linked to the central suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) pacemaker and/or misaligned behavioral time cues. Investigating rhythms in circulating metabolites as biomarkers of peripheral clock distur- bances may offer new insight s. We evaluated the impact of misaligned sleep/wake and feeding/fasting cycles on circulating metabolites using a targeted metabolomics approach. Sequential plasma samples obtained during a 24-h constant routine that followed a 3-d simulated night-s hift schedule, compared with a simulated day-shift schedule, we re analyzed for 132 circulating metabolites. Nearly half of these metabolites showed a 24-h rhyth- micity under constant routine following either or both simulated shift schedules. However, while tradition al markers of the circadian clock in the SCN — melatonin, cortisol, and PER3 expression — maintained a stable phase alignment after both schedules, only a few metabo- lites did the same. Many showed reversed rhythms, lost their rhythms, or showed rhythmicity only under constant routine fol- lowing the night-shift schedule. Here, 95% of the metabolites with a 24-h rhythmicity showed rhythms that were driven by behavior- al time cues externally imposed during the preceding simulated shift schedule rather than being driven by the central SCN circa- dian clock. Characterization of these metabolite rhythms will pro- vide insight into the underlying mechanisms linking shift work and metabolic disorders
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic disorder that presents a range of premotor signs, such as sleep disturbances and cognitive decline, which are key non-motor features of the disease. Increasing evidence of a possible association between sleep disruption and the neurodegenerative process suggests that sleep impairment could produce a detectable metabolic signature on the disease. In order to integrate neurocognitive and metabolic parameters, we performed untargeted and targeted metabolic profiling of the rotenone PD model in a chronic sleep restriction (SR) (6 h/day for 21 days) condition. We found that SR combined with PD altered several behavioural (reversal of locomotor activity impairment; cognitive impairment; delay of rest-activity rhythm) and metabolic parameters (branched-chain amino acids, tryptophan pathway, phenylalanine, and lipoproteins, pointing to mitochondrial impairment). If combined, our results bring a plethora of parameters that represents reliable early-phase PD biomarkers which can easily be measured and could be translated to human studies.
Patients with liver cirrhosis can develop hyperammonemia and hepatic encephalopathy (HE), accompanied by pronounced daytime sleepiness. Previous studies with healthy volunteers show that experimental increase in blood ammonium levels increases sleepiness and slows the waking EEG. As ammonium increases adenosine levels in vitro, and adenosine is a known regulator of sleep/wake homeostasis, we hypothesized that the sleepiness-inducing effect of ammonium is mediated by adenosine. Eight adult male Wistar rats were fed with an ammonium-enriched diet for 4 weeks; eight rats on standard diet served as controls. Each animal was implanted with electroencephalography/electromyography (EEG/EMG) electrodes and a microdialysis probe. Sleep EEG recording and cerebral microdialysis were carried out at baseline and after 6 hours of sleep deprivation. Adenosine and metabolite levels were measured by HPLC and targeted LC/MS metabolomics, respectively. Baseline adenosine and metabolite levels (12 of 16 amino acids, taurine, t4-hydroxy-proline and acetylcarnitine) were lower in hyperammonemic animals, while putrescine was higher. After sleep deprivation, hyperammonemic animals exhibited a larger increase in adenosine levels, and a number of metabolites showed a different time-course in the two groups. In both groups the recovery period was characterized by a significant decrease in wakefulness/increase in NREM and REM sleep. However, while control animals exhibited a gradual compensatory effect, hyperammonemic animals showed a significantly shorter recovery phase. In conclusion, the adenosine/metabolite/EEG response to sleep deprivation was modulated by hyperammonemia, suggesting that ammonia affects homeostatic sleep regulation and its metabolic correlates.