Study Shows Body Clock Shuts Down Inflammation During Sleep
Scientists report that systemic inflammation underlies most disease processes of the human body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, and in that context, it is a healthy reaction. For example, a cut in the skin triggers inflammation, and your body produces white blood cells that rush to the site of the cut to heal the skin. But when inflammation persists, it can cause problems such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
A new study published in The FASEB Journal says the body’s “biological clock” creates a protein that represses inflammatory pathways while you sleep. The protein is called cryptochrome, and its anti-inflammatory effects in cells may offer the chance to develop drugs that could treat some of those inflammatory disease and conditions.
Julie Gibbs, Ph.D. is a researcher who was involved in the study, and an arthritis research U.K. career development fellow at the Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes at the Institute of Human Development at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. She says:
By understanding how the biological clock regulates inflammation, we can begin to develop new treatments, which might exploit this knowledge. Furthermore, by adapting the time of day at which current drug therapies are administered, we may be able to make them more effective.
In conducting the research, Gibbs and her colleagues harvested cells from the joint tissue of healthy mice and/or humans. The cells are called “fibroblast-like synoviocytes,” and they play a role in the pathology of inflammatory arthritis. Every one of these cells operates on a 24-hour rhythm. When the rhythm was interrupted by interfering with the cryptochrome gene, the inflammatory response increased, making it fairly clear the cryptochrome protein could play a significant role in reducing inflammation. The researchers tested this hypothesis by administering drugs they designed to activate the protein, to investigate whether that could prot4ection against inflammation It did.
Thoru Pederson, Ph.D, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, says:
This study reminds us that inflammation, typically thought of as chronic and brittle, can, in fact, be nuanced–In this case, under the influence of the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus, which controls the body’s circadian physiology. The clinical implications are far-reaching.