Publications by year


Publications by Authors

Recent Publications


Contact Us

Head of Institute: Prof. Oren Froy

Administrative manager: Ms. Yael Fruchter

Office Address:
Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition,
Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 
P.O.Box 12, Rehovot 7610001, ISRAEL

Tel: +972 - (0)8-9489385
Fax: +972 - (0)8-9363208
Email Address:


Tal, Y. ; Chapnik, N. ; Froy, O. Non-obesogenic doses of palmitate disrupt circadian metabolism in adipocytes. Adipocyte 2019, 8 392-400. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Saturated fatty acids, such as palmitate, lead to circadian disruption. We aimed at studying the effect of low doses of palmitate on circadian metabolism and to decipher the mechanism by which fatty acids convey their effect in adipocytes. Mice were fed non-obesogenic doses of palm or olive oil and adipocytes were treated with palmitate and oleate. Cultured adipocytes treated with oleate showed increased AMPK activity and induced the expression of mitochondrial genes indicating increased fatty acid oxidation, while palmitate increased ACC activity and induced the expression of lipogenic genes, indicating increased fatty acid synthesis. Low doses of palmitate were sufficient to alter circadian rhythms, due to changes in the expression and/or activity of key metabolic proteins including GSK3β and AKT. Palmitate-induced AKT and GSK3β activation led to the phosphorylation of BMAL1 that resulted in low levels as well as high amplitude of circadian clock expression. In adipocytes, the detrimental metabolic alteration of palmitate manifests itself early on even at non-obesogenic levels. This is accompanied by modulating BMAL1 expression and phosphorylation levels, which lead to dampened clock gene expression. © 2019, © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Jakubowicz, D. ; Landau, Z. ; Tsameret, S. ; Wainstein, J. ; Raz, I. ; Ahren, B. ; Chapnik, N. ; Barnea, M. ; Ganz, T. ; Menaged, M. ; et al. Reductioninglycatedhemoglobin and daily insulin dose alongside circadian clock upregulation in patients with type 2 diabetes consuming a three-meal diet: A randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Care 2019, 42, 2171-2180. Publisher's VersionAbstract
OBJECTIVE In type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and progressive b-cell failure require treatment with high insulin doses, leading to weight gain. Our aim was to study whether a three-meal diet (3Mdiet) with a carbohydrate-rich breakfast may upregulate clock gene expression and, as a result, allow dose reduction of insulin, leading to weight loss and better glycemic control compared with an isocaloric six-meal diet (6Mdiet). RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Twenty-eight volunteers with diabetes (BMI 32.4 6 5.2 kg/m2 and HbA1c 8.1 6 1.1% [64.5 6 11.9 mmol/mol]) were randomly assigned to 3Mdiet or 6Mdiet. Body weight, glycemic control, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), appetite, and clock gene expression were assessed at baseline, after 2 weeks, and after 12 weeks. RESULTS 3Mdiet, but not 6Mdiet, led to a significant weight loss (25.4 6 0.9 kg) (P < 0.01) and decreased HbA1c (212 mmol/mol [21.2%]) (P < 0.0001) after 12 weeks. Fasting glucose and daily and nocturnal glucose levels were significantly lower on the 3Mdiet. CGM showed a significant decrease in the time spent in hyperglycemia only on the 3Mdiet. Total daily insulin dose was significantly reduced by 26 6 7 units only on the 3Mdiet. There was a significant decrease in the hunger and cravings only in the 3Mdiet group. Clock genes exhibited oscillation, increased expression, and higher amplitude on the 3Mdiet compared with the 6Mdiet. CONCLUSIONS A 3Mdiet, in contrast to an isocaloric 6Mdiet, leads to weight loss and significant reduction in HbA1c, appetite, and overall glycemia, with a decrease in daily insulin. Upregulation of clock genes seen in this diet intervention could contribute to the improved glucose metabolism. © 2019 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at
Rozenblit-Susan, S. ; Chapnik, N. ; Froy, O. Serotonin Prevents Differentiation of Brown Adipocytes by Interfering with Their Clock. Obesity 2019, 27, 2018-2024. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Objective: Serotonin was shown to interfere with the differentiation of brown adipocytes. In addition, clock components inhibit brown adipogenesis through direct transcriptional control of key components of the transforming growth factor β pathway. The aim of this study was to investigate whether serotonin abrogates brown adipogenesis by affecting clock functionality. Methods: Nondifferentiated and differentiated HIB1B brown adipocytes were treated with serotonin, and their clock expression and functionality and differentiation state were examined. Results: Nondifferentiated HIB1B brown adipocytes treated with serotonin showed increased brown adipocyte markers alongside increased brain-muscle Arnt-like protein 1 (Bmal1) and RAR related orphan receptor A (Rora) but decreased nuclear receptor Rev-erbα mRNA levels. BMAL1 overexpression together with serotonin led to significantly lower brown adipocyte markers. Serotonin in the differentiation cocktail led to reduced brown adipocyte markers as well as clock gene expression. After differentiation, serotonin treatment significantly decreased brown adipocyte markers and reduced BMAL1 and RORα but increased REV-ERBα protein levels. Addition of serotonin to the differentiation medium or addition after differentiation reduced activity of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II subunit gamma, which interferes with circadian locomoter output cycles protein kaput (CLOCK):BMAL1 dimerization and transactivation. Conclusions: Clock expression is required at the early stages of differentiation to brown adipocytes, and serotonin interferes with this process by modulating clock functionality. Serotonin interferes with clock functionality by reducing the levels of the active form of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II subunit gamma. © 2019 The Obesity Society
Weintraub, Y. ; Cohen, S. ; Chapnik, N. ; Ben-Tov, A. ; Yerushalmy-Feler, A. ; Dotan, I. ; Tauman, R. ; Froy, O. Clock Gene Disruption is an Initial Manifestation of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Background & AimsSleep disruption modifies the immune system and can trigger flares of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Changes in expression of clock genes have been reported in patients with IBD. We investigated whether a change in the circadian clock is an early event in development of IBD. Methods We performed a prospective study of patients younger than 21 years old who underwent diagnostic endoscopies at the pediatric and adult gastroenterology units at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center from August 2016 through August 2017. Questionnaires were completed by 32 patients with IBD (8–21 years old) and 18 healthy individuals (controls) that provided data on demographics, sleep, disease activity scores. We also obtained data on endoscopic scores, anthropometric parameters, blood level of C-reactive protein (CRP), and fecal level of calprotectin. Peripheral blood and intestinal mucosa samples were analyzed for expression levels of clock gene (CLOCK, BMAL1, CRY1, CRY2, PER1, and PER2). Results Levels of CRP and fecal calprotectin were significantly higher in patients with IBD compared with controls (P<.05). Expression levels of clock genes (CLOCK, CRY1, CRY2, PER1, and PER2) were significantly lower in inflamed intestinal mucosa from patients compared with intestinal mucosa from controls (P<.05). Expression levels of all clock genes except for PER2, were also significantly lower in non-inflamed intestinal mucosal tissues from patients compared with controls (P<.05). Expression levels of clock genes (CLOCK, BMAL1, CRY1, CRY2, PER1 and PER2) were lower in white blood cells from patients with IBD compared with controls. This reduction was greater in white blood cells from patients with ulcerative colitis than in patients with Crohn's disease. Conclusion Young, newly diagnosed, untreated patients with IBD have reduced expression of clock genes in inflamed and non-inflamed intestinal mucosal samples, and also in blood cells, compared with healthy individuals. Alterations in expression of clock genes might be an early event in IBD pathogenesis. Identifier: NCT03662646
Tal, Y. ; Chapnik, N. ; Froy, O. Non-obesogenic doses of fatty acids modulate the functionality of the circadian clock in the liver. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 2019, 76, 1795 - 1806. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Saturated fatty acids, such as palmitate, lead to circadian disruption in cell culture. Moreover, information regarding the effects of unsaturated fatty acids on circadian parameters is scarce. We aimed at studying the effects of low doses of saturated as well as unsaturated fatty acids on circadian metabolism in vivo and at deciphering the mechanism by which fatty acids convey their effect. Mice were fed non-obesogenic doses of palm or olive oil and hepatocytes were treated with palmitate and oleate. Mice fed non-obesogenic doses of palm oil showed increased signaling towards fatty acid synthesis, while olive oil increased signaling towards fatty acid oxidation. Low doses of palmitate and oleate were sufficient to alter circadian rhythms, due to changes in the expression and/or activity of key metabolic proteins. Palmitate, but not oleate, counteracted the reduction in lipid accumulation and BMAL1-induced expression of mitochondrial genes involved in fatty acid oxidation. Palmitate was also found to interfere with the transcriptional activity of CLOCK:BMAL1 by preventing BMAL1 deacetylation and activation. In addition, palmitate, but not oleate, reduced PER2-mediated transcriptional activation and increased REV-ERBα-mediated transcriptional inhibition of Bmal1. The inhibition of PER2-mediated transcriptional activation by palmitate was achieved by interfering with PER2 nuclear translocation. Indeed, PER2 reduced fat accumulation in hepatocytes and this reduction was prevented by palmitate. Herein, we show that the detrimental metabolic alteration seen with high doses of palmitate manifests itself early on even with non-obesogenic levels. This is achieved by modulating BMAL1 at several levels abrogating its activity and expression.
Froy, O. ; Garaulet, M. The Circadian Clock in White and Brown Adipose Tissue: Mechanistic, Endocrine, and Clinical Aspects. Endocrine reviews 2018, 39, 261 - 273. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of illnesses, such as insulin resistance and hypertension, and has become a serious public health problem. Mammals have developed a circadian clock located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) that responds to the environmental light-dark cycle. Clocks similar to the one located in the SCN are found in peripheral tissues, such as the kidney, liver, and adipose tissue. The circadian clock regulates metabolism and energy homeostasis in peripheral tissues by mediating activity and/or expression of key metabolic enzymes and transport systems. Knockouts or mutations in clock genes that lead to disruption of cellular rhythmicity have provided evidence to the tight link between the circadian clock and metabolism. In addition, key proteins play a dual role in regulating the core clock mechanism, as well as adipose tissue metabolism, and link circadian rhythms with lipogenesis and lipolysis. Adipose tissues are distinguished as white, brown, and beige (or brite), each with unique metabolic characteristics. Recently, the role of the circadian clock in regulating the differentiation into the different adipose tissues has been investigated. In this review, the role of clock proteins and the downstream signaling pathways in white, brown, and brite adipose tissue function and differentiation will be reviewed. In addition, chronodisruption and metabolic disorders and clinical aspects of circadian adiposity will be addressed.
Christ, P. ; Sowa, A. S. ; Froy, O. ; Lorentz, A. The Circadian Clock Drives Mast Cell Functions in Allergic Reactions. Frontiers in immunology 2018, 9 1526 - 1526. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Allergic diseases are known to vary in the severity of their symptoms throughout the day/night cycle. This rhythmicity is also observed in mast cell function and responsiveness. Mast cells are key effector cells of allergic reactions and release cytokines, chemokines, and important inflammatory mediators such as histamine, which have been shown to display diurnal variation. Recent research clarified that mast cells are controlled by their internal clock-which is regulated by a specific set of clock genes-as well as external factors such as light sensed by the suprachiasmatic nuclei, hormonal status, or diet. Here, we give an overview of the connections between circadian clock, mast cells, and allergic disease. Further work aimed at studying the role of chronotherapy/chronomedicine should take into account this rhythmic nature of not only mast cells but also the immune responses generated by mast cell signaling.
Weintraub, Y. ; Cohen, S. ; Dotan, I. ; Tauman, R. ; Chapnik, N. ; Froy, O. P334 Does the circadian clock have a role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?. Journal of Crohn's and Colitisecco-jcc 2018, 12, S270 - S271. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Sleep dysfunction modifies the immune system and has been implicated as a potential trigger of IBD flares. Sleep dysfunction also alters the synchrony among clock genes leading to disruption of overall circadian regulation. Specifically, in the intestine, it is manifested by increased gut cellular permeability. We hypothesised that changes in mucosal immune balance may be reflected by alterations in the circadian clock and constitute an unattended pathogenic mechanism of IBD. Our aim was to investigate intestinal and systemic clock gene expression (in patients with newly diagnosed IBD and in healthy controls).Patients and controls were recruited upon diagnostic endoscopic evaluation. Demographics, familial medical history, sleep questionnaires, disease activity indices, and endoscopic scores were recorded. Anthropometric parameters, C-reactive protein (CRP), albumin, haemoglobin (Hb), and fecal calprotectin (Fcal) were measured as well. Peripheral blood and tissue samples were analysed for clock gene (Clock, Bmal1, Cry1, Cry2, Per1, and Per2) expression.Of the 32 participants recruited (age 8–25 years, median: 16.1), 14 had newly diagnosed IBD and 18 were healthy controls. Age, gender, sleep questionnaire scores, and time of endoscopy were not statistically different between the groups. Hb, CRP, and Fcal levels were significantly higher in the IBD compared with the healthy controls group (p < 0.05), while albumin was significantly lower (p < 0.05). Clock gene expression (Clock, Cry1, Cry2, Per1, and Per2) in WBC was decreased in newly diagnosed IBD patients compared with health controls (p < 0.05). Similarly, the expression level of the aforementioned genes was lower in inflamed intestinal tissues (p < 0.05). Interestingly, similar reduction in clock gene expression was seen even in healthy (non-inflamed) intestinal tissue from IBD patients (p < 0.05).Clock gene expression is reduced in both inflamed and non-inflamed intestinal tissue in patients with newly diagnosed IBD. Moreover, IBD patients show a systemic reduction in clock gene expression. Our findings may lead to new therapeutic approaches and strategies as well as serve as diagnostic tools in IBD.
Froy, O. Circadian rhythms, nutrition and implications for longevity in urban environments. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2018, 77, 216-222. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Presently, about 12% of the population is 65 years or older and by the year 2030 that figure is expected to reach 21%. In order to promote the well-being of the elderly and to reduce the costs associated with health care demands, increased longevity should be accompanied by ageing attenuation. Energy restriction, which limits the amount of energy consumed to 60–70% of the daily intake, and intermittent fasting, which allows the food to be available ad libitum every other day, extend the life span of mammals and prevent or delay the onset of major age-related diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cataracts. Recently, we have shown that well-being can be achieved by resetting of the circadian clock and induction of robust catabolic circadian rhythms via timed feeding. In addition, the clock mechanism regulates metabolism and major metabolic proteins are key factors in the core clock mechanism. Therefore, it is necessary to increase our understanding of circadian regulation over metabolism and longevity and to design new therapies based on this regulation. This review will explore the present data in the field of circadian rhythms, ageing and metabolism.
Rozenblit-Susan, S. ; Chapnik, N. ; Froy, O. Serotonin prevents differentiation into brown adipocytes and induces transdifferentiation into white adipocytes. International Journal of Obesity 2017, 42, 704 -. Publisher's Version
Rozenblit-Susan, S. ; Chapnik, N. ; Genzer, Y. ; Froy, O. Serotonin suppresses food anticipatory activity and synchronizes the food-entrainable oscillator during time-restricted feeding. 2016, 297, 150 - 154. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The serotonergic and circadian systems are intertwined as serotonin modulates the response of the central brain suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) clock to light. Time-restricted feeding (RF) is characterized by increased food anticipatory activity (FAA) and controlled by the food-entrainable oscillator (FEO) rather than the SCN. Our objective was to test whether serotonin affects the FEO. Mice were treated with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluvoxamine (FLX) or the tryptophan hydroxylase inhibitor parachlorophenylalanine (PCPA) and locomotor activity under ad libitum feeding, RF and different lighting conditions was monitored. Under AL, FLX administration did not affect 24-h locomotor activity, while mice treated with PCPA exhibited increased activity. RF-FLX-treated mice showed less FAA 2h before food availability (ZT2–ZT4) compared to RF- or RF-PCPA-fed mice. Under DD, RF-PCPA-treated mice displayed increased activity, as was seen under LD conditions. Surprisingly, RF-PCPA-treated mice showed free running in the FAA component. These results emphasize the role of serotonin in SCN-mediated activity inhibition and FEO entrainment and activity.
Rozenblit-Susan, S. ; Chapnik, N. ; Froy, O. Metabolic effect of fluvoxamine in mouse peripheral tissues. 2016, 424, 12 - 22. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Serotonin leads to reduced food intake and satiety. Disrupted circadian rhythms lead to hyperphagia and obesity. The serotonergic and circadian systems are intertwined, as the central brain clock receives direct serotonergic innervation and, in turn, makes polysynaptic output back to serotonergic nuclei. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that peripherally serotonin alters circadian rhythms leading to a shift towards fat synthesis and weight gain. We studied the effect of serotonin and fluvoxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), on the circadian clock and metabolic gene and protein expression in mouse liver, muscle and white adipose tissue (WAT) and cell culture. We found that serotonin and/or the SSRI fluvoxamine led to fat accumulation in mouse liver and hepatocytes by shifting metabolism towards fatty acid synthesis mainly through low average levels of phosphorylated acetyl CoA carboxylase (pACC) and phosphorylated protein phosphatase 2A (pPP2A). This shift towards fat synthesis was also observed in adipose tissue. Muscle cells were only slightly affected metabolically by serotonin or fluvoxamine. In conclusion, although centrally it leads to increased satiety, in peripheral tissues, such as the liver and WAT, serotonin induces fat accumulation.
Genzer, Y. ; Dadon, M. ; Burg, C. ; Chapnik, N. ; Froy, O. Effect of dietary fat and the circadian clock on the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 2016, 430, 49 - 55. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the most abundant neurotrophin in the brain and its decreased levels are associated with the development of obesity and neurodegeneration. Our aim was to test the effect of dietary fat, its timing and the circadian clock on the expression of BDNF and associated signaling pathways in mouse brain and liver. Bdnf mRNA oscillated robustly in brain and liver, but with a 12-h shift between the tissues. Brain and liver Bdnf mRNA showed a 12-h phase shift when fed ketogenic diet (KD) compared with high-fat diet (HFD) or low-fat diet (LFD). Brain or liver Bdnf mRNA did not show the typical phase advance usually seen under time-restricted feeding (RF). Clock knockdown in HT-4 hippocampal neurons led to 86% up-regulation of Bdnf mRNA, whereas it led to 60% down-regulation in AML-12 hepatocytes. Dietary fat in mice or cultured hepatocytes and hippocampal neurons led to increased Bdnf mRNA expression. At the protein level, HFD increased the ratio of the mature BDNF protein (mBDNF) to its precursor (proBDNF). In the liver, RF under LFD or HFD reduced the mBDNF/proBDNF ratio. In the brain, the two signaling pathways related to BDNF, mTOR and AMPK, showed reduced and increased levels, respectively, under timed HFD. In the liver, the reverse was achieved. In summary, Bdnf expression is mediated by the circadian clock and dietary fat. Although RF does not affect its expression phase, in the brain, when combined with high-fat diet, it leads to a unique metabolic state in which AMPK is activated, mTOR is down-regulated and the levels of mBDNF are high.
Chapnik, N. ; Rozenblit-Susan, S. ; Genzer, Y. ; Froy, O. Differential effect of fructose on fat metabolism and clock gene expression in hepatocytes vs. myotubes. 2016, 77, 35 - 40. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the liver, fructose bypasses the main rate-limiting step of glycolysis at the level of phosphofructokinase, allowing it to act as an unregulated substrate for de novo lipogenesis. It has been reported that consumption of large amounts of fructose increases de novo lipogenesis in the liver. However, the effect of fructose on ectopic deposition of muscle fat has been under dispute. Our aim was to study the effect of fructose on levels of genes and proteins involved in fatty acid oxidation and synthesis in hepatocytes vs. muscle cells. In addition, as fat accumulation leads to disruption of daily rhythms, we tested the effect of fructose treatment on clock gene expression. AML-12 hepatocytes and C2C12 myotubes were treated with fructose or glucose for 2 consecutive 24-h cycles and harvested every 6h. In contrast to glucose, fructose disrupted clock gene rhythms in hepatocytes, but in myotubes, it led to more robust rhythms. Fructose led to low levels of phosphorylated AMP-activated protein kinase (pAMPK) and high levels of LIPIN1 in hepatocytes compared with glucose. In contrast, fructose led to high pAMPK and low LIPIN1 and microsomal triacylglycerol transfer protein (MTTP) levels in myotubes compared with glucose. Analysis of fat content revealed that fructose led to less fat accumulation in myotubes compared to hepatocytes. In summary, fructose shifts metabolism towards fatty acid synthesis and clock disruption in hepatocytes, but not in myotubes.