Biological rhythms, chronodisruption and chrono-enhancement: The role of physical activity as synchronizer in correcting steroids circadian rhythm in metabolic dysfunctions and cancer

Jacopo Antonino Vitale, Giovanni Lombardi, Andi Weydahl, Giuseppe Banfi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Rhythms can be observed at all levels of the biologic integration in humans. The observation that a biological or physiological variable shows a circadian rhythm can be explained by several multifactorial systems including external (exogenous), internal (endogenous) and psychobiological (lifestyle) mechanisms. Our body clock can be synchronized with the environment by external factors, called “synchronizers”, i.e. the light–dark cycle, but it is also negatively influenced by some pathological conditions or factors, called “chronodisruptors,” i.e. aging or low physical activity (PA). The desynchronization of a 24-h rhythm in a chronic manner has been recently defined “chronodisruption” or “circadian disruption.” A very large number of hormonal variables, such as adrenal and gonadal stress steroids, are governed by circadian rhythmicity. Such hormones, in normal conditions, show a peak in the first part of the day, while their typical diurnal fluctuations are totally out of sync in subjects affected by cancer or metabolic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In general, a flatter slope with altered peaks in cortisol and testosterone circadian rhythms has been observed in pathological individuals. PA, specifically chronic exercise, seems to play a key role as synchronizer for the whole circadian system in such pathologies even if specific data on steroids circadian pattern are still sparse and contradictory. Recently, it has been proposed that low-intensity chronic PA could be an effective intervention to decrease morning cortisol levels in pathological subjects. The standardization of all confounding factors is needed to reach more clear evidence-based results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1197
Number of pages13
JournalChronobiology International
Volume35
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2 2018

Keywords

  • cancer
  • Circadian rhythm
  • inflammation
  • physical activity
  • synchronizer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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