A team of researchers led by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) analyzed two secondary metabolites (compounds) produced by lichens, usnic and evernic acids, and have been shown to alter circadian rhythms. This discovery is important because it is known that chronoperturbation or alteration of the circadian rhythm is linked to diseases such as cancer, obesityDiabetes, parkinsonian oh Alzheimers.
Lichens, i.e. symbiosis between fungi and algae and/or cyanobacteria, are of great ecological importance and are exceptional biological models. These organisms produce a wide range of secondary metabolites, including the acids in this study.
Lichens, that is to say the symbiosis between fungi and algae and/or cyanobacteria, are of great ecological importance and constitute exceptional biological models.
In previous work, it has already been shown that these compounds exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective, effects which in turn have been associated with a functional circadian clock. However, this research published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience gives the first reported data on the effects of lichen secondary metabolites on mammalian cellular circadian rhythms.
“Our study establishes a baseline for further exploration of potential natural products for therapeutic applications in diseases associated with chronoperturbation.”
“Our study establishes a foundation for further exploration of possible natural products for therapeutic applications in diseases associated with chronoperturbation,” emphasizes Pradeep Kumar Divakarresearcher in the Department of Pharmacology, Pharmacognosy and Botany of the UCM.
In the analysis, the researchers studied the effect of the two acids on the expression of two clock genes (Bmal1 and Per2) in the cells of human bone cancer, with embryonic mouse neurons and fibroblasts, by a bioluminescence test.
A firefly luciferase enzyme was applied to each of the cells of these three types which, in the presence of luciferin, emit light signals.
A firefly luciferase enzyme was applied to each of the cells of these three types which, in the presence of luciferin, emit light signals. The quantity and intensity of these light signals produced are proportional to the expression of that particular gene at this time of day.
In this two-year experiment, cells were treated at different times of the day with a particular concentration of usnic acid or evernic acid. They were incubated for 3-5 days and compared to the control group to quantify, based on light signals, the evolution of circadian rhythms according to parameters such as amplitude, phase, period and decay rate. .
In this two-year experiment, cells were treated at different times of the day with a particular concentration of usnic acid or evernic acid.
After the first discovery, the next step is “investigate the mechanism behind this altered circadian rhythm and its possible interaction with the anti-cancer signaling pathway and the antioxidant defense pathway,” he concludes. Soumi Srimani, also researcher at UCM and first author.