Irvine, Calif., May 31, 2013 Circadian rhythms can boost the body's ability to fight intestinal bacterial infections, UC Irvine researchers have found.
This suggests that targeted treatments may be particularly effective for pathogens such as salmonella that prompt a strong immune system response governed by circadian genes. It also helps explain why disruptions in the regular day-night pattern as experienced by, say, night-shift workers or frequent fliers may raise susceptibility to infectious diseases.
UC Irvine's Paolo Sassone-Corsi, one of the world's leading researchers on circadian rhythm genetics, and microbiologist Manuela Raffatellu led the study, which appears this week in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Marina Bellet, a postdoctoral researcher from Italy's University of Perugia also played a key role in the experiments.
"Although many immune responses are known to follow daily oscillations, the role of the circadian clock in the immune response to acute infections has not been understood," said Sassone-Corsi, the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Chemistry. "What we're learning is that the intrinsic power of the body clock can help fight infections."
Circadian rhythms of 24 hours govern fundamental physiological functions in almost all organisms. The circadian clock is an intrinsic time-tracking system in the human body that anticipates environmental changes and adapts to the appropriate time of day. Disruption of these normal rhythms can profoundly influence people's health.
Up to 15 percent of human genes are regulated by the day-night pattern of circadian rhythms, including those that respond to intestinal infections.
In tests on mice infected with salmonella, the researchers noted that circadian-controlled genes govern the immune response to the invading pathogen, leading to day-night differences in infection potential an
|Contact: Tom Vasich|
University of California - Irvine