Chronomedicine and type 2 diabetes: shining some light on melatonin.Diabetologia. 2017 05; 60(5):808-822.D
In mammals, the circadian timing system drives rhythms of physiology and behaviour, including the daily rhythms of feeding and activity. The timing system coordinates temporal variation in the biochemical landscape with changes in nutrient intake in order to optimise energy balance and maintain metabolic homeostasis. Circadian disruption (e.g. as a result of shift work or jet lag) can disturb this continuity and increase the risk of cardiometabolic disease. Obesity and metabolic disease can also disturb the timing and amplitude of the clock in multiple organ systems, further exacerbating disease progression. As our understanding of the synergy between the timing system and metabolism has grown, an interest has emerged in the development of novel clock-targeting pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals for the treatment of metabolic dysfunction. Recently, the pineal hormone melatonin has received some attention as a potential chronotherapeutic drug for metabolic disease. Melatonin is well known for its sleep-promoting effects and putative activity as a chronobiotic drug, stimulating coordination of biochemical oscillations through targeting the internal timing system. Melatonin affects the insulin secretory activity of the pancreatic beta cell, hepatic glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus have lower night-time serum melatonin levels and increased risk of comorbid sleep disturbances compared with healthy individuals. Further, reduced melatonin levels, and mutations and/or genetic polymorphisms of the melatonin receptors are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Herein we review our understanding of molecular clock control of glucose homeostasis, detail the influence of circadian disruption on glucose metabolism in critical peripheral tissues, explore the contribution of melatonin signalling to the aetiology of type 2 diabetes, and discuss the pros and cons of melatonin chronopharmacotherapy in disease management.