The role of circadian microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease development

Technical University of Munich
ZIEL - Institute for Food & Health

Dr. Silke Kiessling (P03)


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic, idiopathic disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract. IBD is highly associated with irregular immune response, microbiota dysbiosis and abnormal gastrointestinal function. All of these factors are controlled by the circadian system or at least show diurnal fluctuation.  The circadian system represents the internal body mechanisms in preparing and adapting to external recurring environmental factors. The circadian system is composed of transcription-translation feedback loop oscillate in a ~24 hrs. rhythm – so-called circadian rhythm.  This endogenous system regulates the transcription of thousands of clock-controlled genes. As a result, various physiological functions fluctuate between day and night.

Shift work or frequent jet lag impair the internal clock ability to entrain with external environmental cues, and this misalignment results in disruption of the circadian system. Shift worker and people frequently exposed to jet lag appeared to be at higher risk to develop various physiological diseases, such as metabolic abnormalities, cancer and gastrointestinal diseases including IBD. A likely explanation why the risk to develop gastrointestinal diseases is increased in shift worker is the disruption of the circadian system, which is known to result in disruption of gastrointestinal functions, impairment of the immune response and causes microbiota dysbiosis.

In the current project, we are aiming to analyze different aspects of the circadian system controlling microbiota composition, which may be involved in IBD development. In addition we aim to understand whether the disruption in the circadian system increase the disease progression through changes in microbiota composition and finally, to assess the possibility of manipulating the microbiota fluctuations to attenuate the IBD symptoms.



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