Fasting blood triglycerides vary with circadian phase in both young and older people

Robin K. Yuan, Kirsi Marja Zitting, Wei Wang, Orfeu M. Buxton, Jonathan S. Williams, Jeanne F. Duffy, Charles A. Czeisler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Daily rhythms in several physiological processes are important for cardiometabolic health. The lipid panel is used clinically to assess cardiovascular disease risk, but previous attempts to demonstrate circadian variation in lipids have failed to uncouple the endogenous circadian rhythm from the effects of meals and wake duration. Changes in basal lipid levels and dampening of circadian rhythms have been reported with aging, but it is unknown whether aging is also associated with changes in the rhythmic variation of lipids. We measured fasting lipid panels (triglycerides, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein) in blood at wake time in 21 healthy adults using a specialized laboratory protocol that uncouples sleep–wake and activity-related effects from the endogenous circadian rhythm. Young and older adults exhibited endogenous circadian variations in fasting triglycerides, with both groups peaking in the early biological morning. Young adults also exhibited significant circadian rhythmicity in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, while older adults did not exhibit circadian rhythmicity in any other lipids. These results reveal that triglyceride metabolism may be regulated by the central circadian pacemaker. Moreover, our findings may have clinical implications in assessing cardiovascular risk in shift workers and younger adults, since routine measurement of morning/fasting lipids may not fully and reliably assess triglyceride- and other lipid-related biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in these groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14453
JournalPhysiological reports
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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