Editors' ChoiceCircadian Rhythms

Airplane air

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Science  11 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6313, pp. 717
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6313.717-a

The low oxygen concentration in airplane air may help fight jet lag.


Can flying help alleviate jet lag? Studies of the biochemical mechanisms that synchronize biological clocks throughout the body show that the low-oxygen environment of airplanes may actually help you adjust to your new time zone. Adamovich et al. observed daily cycles in the concentration of oxygen in blood and tissues of mice kept on a normal light-dark cycle. These variations were sufficient to alter the abundance of the transcription factor HIF1α (hypoxia-inducible factor 1α). In cultured cells, changes in oxygen concentration could entrain the circadian clock only if HIF1α was present. When animals were subjected to a 6-hour change in the light cycle (like traveling eastward on a jet), animals kept in a low concentration of oxygen adapted more quickly.

Cell Metab. 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.09.014 (2016).

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