Insulin is a key molecule that synchronizes peripheral clocks, such as that in the liver. Although we previously reported that mice fed a low-protein diet showed altered expression of lipid-related genes in the liver and induction of hepatic steatosis, it is unknown whether a low-protein diet impairs insulin secretion and modifies the hepatic circadian rhythm. Therefore, we investigated the effects of the intake of a low-protein diet on the circadian rhythm of insulin secretion and hepatic lipid metabolism in mice. Under 12-h light/12-h dark cycle, mice fed a low-protein diet for 7 days displayed enhanced food intake at the end of the light phase, although central and peripheral PER2 expression rhythm was maintained. Serum insulin levels in mice fed a low-protein diet remained low during the day, and the insulin secretion in OGTT was also markedly lower than in normal mice. In mice fed low-protein diet, hepatic TG accumulation was observed during the nighttime, with relatively high levels of ACC1 mRNA and total ACC proteins. Although there were no differences in the activity rhythm of hepatic mTOR between mice fed a normal or low-protein diet, hepatic IRS-2 expression in mice fed a low-protein diet remained low during the day, with no increase at the beginning of the light period. These results suggested that the low-protein diet eliminated the circadian rhythm of serum insulin and hepatic lipid metabolism in mice, providing insights into our understanding of the mechanisms of hepatic disorders of lipid metabolism.
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