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Microorganisms. 2019 Jan 31;7(2). pii: E41. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms7020041.

Potential Role for the Gut Microbiota in Modulating Host Circadian Rhythms and Metabolic Health.

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The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Private Bag 11600, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.
Department of Hypothalamic Integration Mechanisms, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Meibergdreef 47, 1105BA Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1105AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.


This article reviews the current evidence associating gut microbiota with factors that impact host circadian-metabolic axis, such as light/dark cycles, sleep/wake cycles, diet, and eating patterns. We examine how gut bacteria possess their own daily rhythmicity in terms of composition, their localization to intestinal niches, and functions. We review evidence that gut bacteria modulate host rhythms via microbial metabolites such as butyrate, polyphenolic derivatives, vitamins, and amines. Lifestyle stressors such as altered sleep and eating patterns that may disturb the host circadian system also influence the gut microbiome. The consequent disruptions to microbiota-mediated functions such as decreased conjugation of bile acids or increased production of hydrogen sulfide and the resultant decreased production of butyrate, in turn affect substrate oxidation and energy regulation in the host. Thus, disturbances in microbiome rhythms may at least partially contribute to an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome associated with insufficient sleep and circadian misalignment. Good sleep and a healthy diet appear to be essential for maintaining gut microbial balance. Manipulating daily rhythms of gut microbial abundance and activity may therefore hold promise for a chrononutrition-based approach to consolidate host circadian rhythms and metabolic homeorhesis.


chronodisruption; clock genes; gut microbiome; plant food; prebiotics; sleep/wake rhythm

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