How biorhythms and fatty liver are connected

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Participants who would like to find out more about their biorhythm are being sought for a comprehensive study.

Our internal clock guides us through day and night and has far-reaching effects on our metabolism. If it gets out of balance, this can have health consequences. Mustafa Özcürümez from the Medical Clinic of the University Hospital Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bochum and the Eye Clinic there, under the direction of Burkhard Dick, are conducting a study to find out whether and how biorhythm disorders promote the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The study is looking for participants who are willing, among other things, to wear a light dosimeter specially developed at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts under the direction of Björn Schrader, which provides information on the effects of non-visible light. Achim Kramer, a proven expert in the field of chronobiology, has also been recruited as a cooperation partner.

Sleep disorders and tiredness

Our internal clock is set by many factors: On the one hand, it is genetically determined whether we are early risers or night owls, but on the other hand, the times at which we eat, sleep or are exposed to light also contribute to this. The latter does not necessarily have to be visible light: Certain photoreceptors in the eye directly and indirectly transmit signals of non-visible light to our central internal clock and organ-specific rhythms. This complex interplay is susceptible to disruption, which can have far-reaching consequences.

"The spectrum of biorhythm disorders is very broad," emphasizes Mustafa Özcürümez. "And what doesn’t make it any easier is that tiredness and sleep problems are often seen as normal and a private matter." In addition, light pollution, shift work, blue light in the evening from a cell phone in bed or working late on the PC and social jet lag, where you stay up too late at the weekend, do not necessarily lead to sleep disorders. Nevertheless, these factors influence the biorhythm and lead to an unfavorable metabolic situation, which can result in a fatty liver. Fatty liver disease is a multifactorial process that develops over years to decades," explains Mustafa Özürümez. The aim of the current study is to record as many of the contributing factors as possible.

Wide range of instruments

In addition to the light dosimeter, the participants have developed a set of instruments that includes questionnaires, genetic examinations, blood and saliva tests and metabolome analyses. For the project, the study team is looking for participants who suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as healthy control subjects who are not allowed to work shifts. "Those who take part learn a lot about themselves," says Mustafa Özcürümez. In addition to an expense allowance, the test subjects will also receive a detailed report on their chronotype and many other results of the tests.

"If an influence of the chronotype on the development of fatty liver disease is confirmed, approaches for prevention could be derived," says Mustafa Özcürümez. There are also therapeutic approaches such as light therapy, glasses with blue light filters, the intake of melatonin and behavioral therapy measures that improve sleep.