AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Animal studies have indicated that disturbed diurnal rhythms of clock gene expression in adipose tissue can induce obesity and type 2 diabetes. The importance of the circadian timing system for energy metabolism is well established, but little is known about the diurnal regulation of (clock) gene expression in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. In this study we aimed to identify key disturbances in the diurnal rhythms of the white adipose tissue transcriptome in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.
METHODS: In a case-control design, we included six obese individuals with type 2 diabetes and six healthy, lean control individuals. All participants were provided with three identical meals per day for 3 days at zeitgeber time (ZT, with ZT 0:00 representing the time of lights on) 0:30, 6:00 and 11:30. Four sequential subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue samples were obtained, on day 2 at ZT 15:30, and on day 3 at ZT 0:15, ZT 5:45 and ZT 11:15. Gene expression was measured using RNA sequencing.
RESULTS: The core clock genes showed reduced amplitude oscillations in the individuals with type 2 diabetes compared with the healthy control individuals. Moreover, in individuals with type 2 diabetes, only 1.8% (303 genes) of 16,818 expressed genes showed significant diurnal rhythmicity, compared with 8.4% (1421 genes) in healthy control individuals. Enrichment analysis revealed a loss of rhythm in individuals with type 2 diabetes of canonical metabolic pathways involved in the regulation of lipolysis. Enrichment analysis of genes with an altered mesor in individuals with type 2 diabetes showed decreased activity of the translation initiating pathway 'EIF2 signaling'. Individuals with type 2 diabetes showed a reduced diurnal rhythm in postprandial glucose concentrations.
CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Diurnal clock and metabolic gene expression rhythms are decreased in subcutaneous adipose tissue of obese individuals with type 2 diabetes compared with lean control participants. Future investigation is needed to explore potential treatment targets as identified by our study, including clock enhancement and induction of EIF2 signalling.
DATA AVAILABILITY: The raw sequencing data and supplementary files for rhythmic expression analysis and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis have been deposited in NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO series accession number GSE104674).