Pregnancy-induced changes in the circadian expression of hepatic clock genes: Implications for maternal glucose homeostasis

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    © 2016 the American Physiological Society.Adaptations in maternal carbohydrate metabolism are particularly important in pregnancy because glucose is the principal energy substrate used by the fetus. As metabolic homeostasis is intricately linked to the circadian system via the rhythmic expression of clock genes, it is likely that metabolic adaptations during pregnancy also involve shifts in maternal circadian function. We hypothesized that maternal adaptation in pregnancy involves changes in the hepatic expression of clock genes, which drive downstream shifts in circadian expression of glucoregulatory genes. Maternal liver and plasma (n = 6–8/group) were collected across 24-h periods (0800, 1200, 1600, 2000, 0000, 0400) from C57Bl/6J mice under isoflurane-nitrous oxide anesthesia prior to and on days 6, 10, 14 and 18 of pregnancy (term = day 19). Hepatic expression of clock genes and glucoregulatory genes was determined by RT-qPCR. Hepatic clock gene expression was substantially altered across pregnancy, most notably in late gestation when the circadian rhythmicity of several clock genes was attenuated (=64% reduced amplitude on day 18). These changes were associated with a similar decline in rhythmicity of the key glucoregulatory genes Pck1, G6Pase, and Gk, and by day 18, Pck1 was no longer rhythmic. Overall, our data show marked adaptations in the liver clock during mouse pregnancy, changes that may contribute to the altered circadian variation in glucoregulatory genes near term. We propose that the observed reduction of daily oscillations in glucose metabolism ensure a sustained supply of glucose to meet the high demands of fetal growth.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E575-E586
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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