Summary: Lack of sleep changes the structure of the DNA in immune cells and increases the number of immune cells, causing them to become overstimulated and cause inflammation. The study found that taking a nap does not change this result.

Source: Mount Sinai Hospital

Chronic and insufficient sleep can negatively affect immune cells, which can lead to inflammatory disorders and cardiovascular disease, according to a new study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In particular, consistently losing an hour and a half of sleep per night can increase the risk.

The study was published on September 21 Journal of Experimental Medicine, It is the first to show that sleep alters the structure of DNA in immune stem cells, which produce white blood cells—also known as immune cells—which has long-lasting effects on inflammation and contributes to infectious diseases.

Immune cells fight infection, but if the number of these cells increases too much, they overreact and cause inflammation. The study is the first to show that catching up on sleep doesn’t reverse the effects of sleep deprivation.

“This study begins to unravel the biological mechanisms that link sleep and immune health over the long term. It shows that interrupted sleep in humans and mice can have a profound effect on immune cell programming and production.”

“This is important because it’s another key observation that sleep reduces inflammation and, conversely, sleep deprivation increases inflammation,” said Philip Swirsky, Ph.D., director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Mount Sinai.

“This work emphasizes the importance of getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a day for adults to help prevent inflammation and disease, especially for people with chronic disease.

A team of investigators analyzed 14 healthy adults who regularly slept eight hours a day. First, researchers monitored them sleeping at least eight hours a day for six weeks. They drew their blood and analyzed their immune cells. Then the same group of adults cut their sleep time by 90 minutes every day for six weeks and had their blood and immune cells tested again.

At the end of the study, researchers compared the blood and cell samples of a full night’s sleep and sleep time.

All participants had significant changes in immune cells (also known as hematopoietic cells) due to lack of sleep – there were many of them, and the DNA structure was changed. After six weeks of sleep restriction, the number of immune cells increased.

Researchers have also analyzed sleep in mouse models. Groups of mice were either allowed to sleep undisturbed, or had interrupted sleep, where they were kept awake throughout the night for 16 weeks. The sleep-deprived mice were then subjected to continuous sleep recovery for ten weeks.

Investigators took immune stem cells and immune cells from the mice during these undisturbed, disorganized, and sleep-recovery stages and compared them at the end of the experiment.

Results in mice were consistent with results in humans. All of the mice who experienced disrupted sleep showed significant changes in their immune stem cells, producing more immune cells and regenerating and reprogramming.

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The study is the first to show that catching up on sleep doesn’t reverse the effects of sleep deprivation. The image is in the public domain.

A significant finding from the mouse team was that even after recovery from sleep, the immune stem cells retained this regenerative structure and produced more white blood cells, making the mice less susceptible to infection and disease.

“Our findings suggest that restorative sleep cannot fully reverse the effects of poor quality sleep. We can detect a molecular signature of insufficient sleep in immune stem cells, even after weeks of restorative sleep.”

“This molecular signature can cause cells to respond in inappropriate ways that lead to inflammation and disease,” said co-lead investigator Cameron McAlpine, PhD, assistant professor of medicine (cardiology) at Icahn Mount Sinai.

“It was surprising to find that not all clusters of stem cells responded to sleep deprivation in the same way. There were some clusters of stem cells that proliferated and increased in number, while other clusters became smaller. This general decline in differentiation and aging of the immune stem cell population is an important contributor to infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease.

Financial support The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Center for the Advancement of Translational Science, part of the National Institutes of Health, helped fund this study.

So sleep and inflammation research news

Author: Ilna Nkravsh
Source: Mount Sinai Hospital
Contact: Ilana Nikravish – Mount Sinai Hospital
Image: The image is in the public domain.

Preliminary study: The findings are shown in Journal of Experimental Medicine

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