The term energy metabolism comprises the entirety of chemical processes associated with uptake, conversion, storage, and breakdown of nutrients. All these must be tightly regulated in time and space to ensure metabolic homeostasis in an environment characterized by cycles such as the succession of day and night. Most organisms evolved endogenous circadian clocks to achieve this goal. In mammals, a ubiquitous network of cellular clocks is coordinated by a pacemaker residing in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus. Adipocytes harbor their own circadian clocks, and large aspects of adipose physiology are regulated in a circadian manner through transcriptional regulation of clock-controlled genes. White adipose tissue (WAT) stores energy in the form of triglycerides at times of high energy levels that then serve as fuel in times of need. It also functions as an endocrine organ, releasing factors in a circadian manner to regulate food intake and energy turnover in other tissues. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) produces heat through nonshivering thermogenesis, a process also controlled by the circadian clock. We here review how WAT and BAT contribute to the circadian regulation of energy metabolism. We describe how adipose rhythms are regulated by the interplay of systemic signals and local clocks and summarize how adipose-originating circadian factors feed-back on metabolic homeostasis. The role of adipose tissue in the circadian control of metabolism becomes increasingly clear as circadian disruption leads to alterations in adipose tissue regulation, promoting obesity and its sequelae. Stabilizing adipose tissue rhythms, in turn, may help to combat disrupted energy homeostasis and obesity.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)