Internal biological body clock protects us from Liver Cancer – new study

Internal biological body clock prevents Liver Cancer growth

Publication date: 8 November 2018

Source: Texas University (UTHealth)

Journal: Nature Communications

Summary: Scientists at UTHealth performed a pre-clinical study in mice and approved that our internal biological clock plays an important role in preventing hepatocellular carcinoma from growth and development inside the body.

Internal biological body clock protect us form Liver Cancer
Internal biological body clock protect us form Liver Cancer

what is the Internal biological clock?

There’s a big difference between  people in each place in the time of sleeping and alertness, and after a wide range of previous studies; researchers and scientists found that sleeping/ alertness balance depends on two main systems which are:

a) sleep-wake homeostasis.

b) circadian internal biological clock.

When we have stayed awake for a long time; the sleep/ wake homeostasis alert us that we need to sleep and it also helps us to sleep for enough connected hours at night; so that it makes us more alert at the first of the next new day, this balance means that the more we stay awake, the more we would feel sleeping and the opposite is right. So this sleep-wake homeostasis controls healthy sleeping and wakefulness.

On another hand, there is a second system that regulates our sleepiness and wakefulness which is circadian rhythm through 24 hours, for example, the adult people, in general, have strongest sleeping at two periods of time through the day (2.00 : 4.00 am) and (1.00 : 3.00 pm) because at this periods the circadian rhythm dips; however, the time of circadian rhythm dips or rises differ from a person to another according to his life nature.

Scientists also found that the circadian internal biological clock is controlled by an important part in our brain which called SCN (Suprachiasmatic Nucleus) which located in the hypothalamus. SCN part is responsible for hormones secretion, body temperature,  regulation of metabolism and the signals of feeling sleepy or awake.

Furthermore, at the day when we exposure to light the SCN receives a signal to delay the secretion of the sleeping hormone (Melatonin) which is secreted when the SCN receives a signal from the eyes that there is a dark. because melatonin hormone is known to help in the onset of sleeping and its level elevates at night hours.

So, when there are any disruptions in this internal Circadian rhythm; it leads to some health disorders such as Jet lag (Desynchronosis) in some travelers and “evening people” because the brain forces the body to change its normal  sleep and awake homeostasis, so they have difficulties in thinking and can’t perform their work well.

As a conclusion, it appears that we must maintain the balance between sleeping and wakefulness hours to protect the sleep/ wake homeostasis and internal clock rhythm systems from disorders, and therefore enjoy our body health and perform our daily tasks at our best.

Internal biological body clock protect us form Liver Cancer
Internal biological body clock protect us from Liver Cancer

Wait ……… there are other hidden benefits of the healthy internal biological clock at the cellular level 

The Internal biological body clock protects us from Liver Cancer (How) ??

The current study which we will be illustrated in this article showed that the body clock can fight against some liver cancer types.

The senior author of the study Kristin Eckel-Mahan said that they were succeeded in inhibiting liver cancer cells in a mouse depending on the manipulation in the circadian internal biological clock at the cellular level, and they also succeeded in confirming these findings in some human body tissue samples.

The study focused on the hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCC) which are considered the main cause of malignant tumors in human liver, and the study’s teamwork identified the malfunctioning protein which responsible for the inhibition of circadian transcription factor and responsible also for blocking tumor suppressor ability, so this tumor suppressor can’t perform their cellular functions throughout 24 hours. During the study experiments, when the author and his team forced the tumor cells to re-express this deficient protein; the cells died.

Internal biological body clock protect us form Liver Cancer
Internal biological body clock protect us form Liver Cancer

They also showed that more than 50 % of liver malignant tumors express this malfunctioning protein which leads to circadian interruptions inside those cells. So this findings approved that the targeting of the internal biological clock in hepatocellular carcinoma cells produces a new treatment pathway for liver cancer.

The author is also said that the next challenge is to uncover the way of preventing the disruption of the internal biological clock at the cellular level and to evaluate whether the normal medical drugs which improve the clock functions can also prevent this growth of liver cancer.


By illustrating the way of preventing the expression of the protein which leading to body’s internal clock dysfunction at the cellular level; we may have a promising treatment for liver cancer.


Baharan Fekry, Aleix Ribas-Latre, Corrine Baumgartner, Jonathan R. Deans, Christopher Kwok, Pooja Patel, Loning Fu, Rebecca Berdeaux, Kai Sun, Mikhail G. Kolonin, Sidney H. Wang, Seung-Hee Yoo, Frances M. Sladek, Kristin Eckel-Mahan., “Incompatibility of the circadian protein BMAL1 and HNF4α in hepatocellular carcinoma” Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06648-6

For more studies visit: Recent Research Studies

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