Science Of Body Synchronization

Dr. S. S. Verma, Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal, Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148106

2017-12-13 09:20:39



Body of any living creature on the planet mother earth seems to be nature’s one of the unique creation. Each and every body synchronizes not only to earth’s physical, chemical, and biological environment but also to whole solar system-galaxies-universe to which Earth is an integral part.  Body on earth is continuously going through/experiencing the effects of many regular physical phenomena related to earth like environment, gravity and gravitation, magnetic field of earth, revolution of earth around its own axis (causing day and night), rotation of earth around sun, and many more. 

Along with synchronization to all types of such regular phenomena taking place on Earth, body act as a biological clock, responding to all such phenomena. Body can also be synchronized by continuous practices to make most out of it as desired.  Many sayings like: early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wise, were well practiced by people without bothering for their scientific base. Our body can act perfectly as desired if we are able to synchronize it with proper training with respect to any activity related to food, exercise, sleep etc.  I remember when one of college friend while going to bed at night was murmuring to himself that “he has to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning”.  When I enquired from him whether he is talking in dream, he told that he is just memorizing and tuning his brain to make him get up early in the morning, and this was the practice he generally used to follow during examination days. Ill effects on human body of acting contrary to the Earth’s regular phenomena like observing day as night, working with antigravity or in less gravity environment, motion against earth’s revolution and rotation etc. were passed on from generation to generation through mouth words only without questioning about their scientific base. However, taking the excuse of missing scientific base and the small magnitude of these effects, these were totally ignored by human in spite of the occurrence of body signs clearly indicating towards the breaking of body tuning/synchronization with nature. 

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017 is awarded "for the discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm" jointly to scientists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young from USA.  Life on Earth is adapted to the rotation of our planet. For many years we have known that living organisms, including humans, have an internal, biological clock that helps them anticipate and adapt to the regular rhythm of the day. But how does this clock actually work? The three scientists used fruit flies to isolate a gene that controls the rhythm of a living organism’s daily life which will make able to peek inside our biological clock, helping to explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions. The circadian rhythm (the internal clock) keeps us in sync with the world and tracks the rotation of the Earth and tells us when to go to sleep and when it’s time to get up, and prepares us for the routine bodily tasks that we perform through the day and night - and for the challenges that we may face. The rhythm ensures that we are at maximum alert in the mid-morning, which is rather useful whether you are a hunter-gatherer out foraging or a captain of industry at a meeting. It exerts its influence in unseen ways, too, regulating the cycle of blood pressure and body temperature. It suppresses bowel movements just before midnight and relinquishes its control early in the morning, ensuring that we don’t wake ourselves during the period of deepest sleep and lowest metabolic rate. Humans share the circadian rhythm with animals, plants, fungi and even archaic life forms like cyanobacteria — single-cell organisms which are so far back on the evolutionary chain that they do not even have clearly defined cell nuclei.

Day and night tuning

Most living organisms anticipate and adapt to daily changes in the environment. During the 18th century, the astronomer Jean Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan studied mimosa plants, and found that the leaves opened towards the sun during daytime and closed at dusk. He wondered what would happen if the plant was placed in constant darkness. He found that independent of daily sunlight the leaves continued to follow their normal daily oscillation Plants seemed to have their own biological clock. Other researchers found that not only plants, but also animals and humans, have a biological clock that helps to prepare our physiology for the fluctuations of the day. This regular adaptation is referred to as the circadian rhythm, originating from the Latin words circa meaning "around" and dies meaning "day". But just how our internal circadian biological clock worked remained a mystery. Using fruit flies as a model organism, this year's Nobel laureates isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm. They showed that this gene encodes a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night, and is then degraded during the day. Subsequently, they identified additional protein components of this machinery, exposing the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clockwork inside the cell, recognizing that biological clocks function by the same principles in cells of other multicellular organisms, including humans. With exquisite precision, our inner clock adapts our physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day. The clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism. Our wellbeing is affected when there is a temporary mismatch between our external environment and this internal biological clock, for example when we travel across several time zones and experience "jet lag". There are also indications that chronic misalignment between our lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by our inner timekeeper is associated with increased risk for various diseases.

Biological clock gene and its self-regulating mechanism

This year's Nobel Laureates aimed to discover how the biological clock actually works. They succeeded in isolating the period gene, and discovered that PER, the protein encoded by period, accumulated during the night and was degraded during the day. Thus, PER protein levels oscillate over a 24-hour cycle, in synchrony with the circadian rhythm.  The next key goal was to understand how such circadian oscillations could be generated and sustained. They hypothesized that the PER protein blocked the activity of the period gene. They reasoned that by an inhibitory feedback loop, PER protein could prevent its own synthesis and thereby regulate its own level in a continuous, cyclic rhythm. To block the activity of the period gene, PER protein, which is produced in the cytoplasm, would have to reach the cell nucleus, where the genetic material is located. It was shown that PER protein builds up in the nucleus during night, but no answer to how did it get there.  With the discovery of a second clock gene, called timeless, encoding the TIM protein that was required for a normal circadian rhythm that when TIM bound to PER, the two proteins were able to enter the cell nucleus where they blocked period gene activity to close the inhibitory feedback loop. Such a regulatory feedback mechanism explained how this oscillation of cellular protein levels emerged.  But question, what controlled the frequency of the oscillations lingered on. They identified yet another gene, doubletime, encoding the DBT protein that delayed the accumulation of the PER protein. This provided insight into how an oscillation is adjusted to more closely match a 24-hour cycle.

Biological Clock to Human physiology

The biological clock is involved in many aspects of our complex physiology. We now know that all multicellular organisms, including humans, utilize a similar mechanism to control circadian rhythms. A large proportion of our genes are regulated by the biological clock and, consequently, a carefully calibrated circadian rhythm adapts our physiology to the different phases of the day. Since the seminal discoveries by the three laureates, circadian biology has developed into a vast and highly dynamic research field, with implications for our health and wellbeing. This is great recognition for the field of circadian rhythms that are intimately linked to our health and disease, including diabetes, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle disorders like diabetes and cardiovascular disease have been connected with disordered circadian rhythms. There is concern about the metabolic effects of professions which forcefully depart from the normal circadian rhythm — airline crews are at risk, and the call centre business can permanently reverse the worker’s day and night. These are peripheral engagements, but an understanding of the mainspring of the body’s clock could permit deeper interventions. Thus, it is obvious that by tuning/synchronizing our body in line with the Earth’s regular activities we can avoid many sufferings like depression, anxiety, obesity, hyper tension, irrelative behaviors etc. in our daily living.