Biologists at The University of Manchester have discovered for the first time why having a great night’s sleep could set us up for the rigors of the day ahead. The study shows how the body clock mechanism will boost our ability to maintain our bodies during the hours we are most active.
It is known that the body clock is not as precise as we age. The new discovery may one day help researchers unlock some of the mysteries behind aging. The recent discovery sheds fascinating light on the bodies extracellular matrix. This matrix provides biochemical and structural support to cells in the form of connective tissue such as skin, bone, cartilage and tendon.
Over one half of our body weight is matrix and half of this is collagen. It has been long understood that it is fully formed by the time a person reaches the age of 17. Now researchers have discovered there are two types of fibrils which are rope like structures of collagen that are woven by cells to form tissues.
Thick fibrils measure about 200 nanometers in diameter. This is a million times smaller than a pinhead. They are permanent and remain with us throughout our lives, unchanged from the age of 17.
However, thinner fibrils measuring 50 nanometers are sacrificial. They break when we subject our body to the rigors of the day, They do however replenish when we rest at night.
Mice were used for the study. Collagen was observed by mass spectrometry and the mouse fibrils were observed through the use of state of the art volumetric electron microscopy every 4 hours over 2 days. When the body clock genes where knocked out in the mice, the thick and thin fibrils were amalgamated randomly.
Since collagen provides the body with structure and is also our most abundant protein, it is intuitive to think our matrix should be worn down by wear and tear. However it isn’t and the team knows why. Our body clock makes an element which is sacrificial and can be replenished. This protects the permanent parts of the matrix.
Having this new information and discovery could have implications for understanding our biology at the most fundamental level It could give some deeper insight into how wounds heal and also how we age.
To view the original scientific study click below