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Researchers reveal how stress levels affect biological clock

Using mice as experimental subjects, a research team led by Professor Shigenobu Shibata (Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering) and Professor Yu Tahara (Institute for Advanced Study) has revealed how individual stress levels can distort one’s biological clock.

All of our bodies have biological clocks that help maintain equilibrium among various physiological functions. Distortion of this biological clock is said to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Prior to this research, we understood that stress hormones affect one’s biological clock. However, we did not not know what kind of effect individual stress levels produce.

Through this research, we understand that stress levels, particularly at night, are capable of distorting one’s biological clock. Furthermore, we understand that physical and emotional stress greatly distorts the biological clock of the brain and internal organs and through developing resistance, one can lessen this distortion.

This research achievement is the result of an association between a Waseda University consortium led by Professor Shigenobu Shibata and the Japanese Government Cabinet Office’s Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program. This research received a grant-in-aid for scientific research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and received support from the Public Health Research Foundation.

Research results were published in the English Nature Publishing Group’s online science journal, “Scientific Reports.”

Entrainment of the mouse circadian clock by sub-acute physical and psychological stress