Internal Clock May Determine Whether Infection Takes Place

By Emily Murray

Ever since we were children we were advised to get plenty of rest when we didn’t feel well. Now as we have grown up, the advice has remained the same and in fact, most of us have likely realized we are more apt to get sick when we are sleep deprived. While we have long known this correlation exists, a new study has confirmed the relationship between sleep patterns and chance of developing an infection from a medical standpoint.

The circadian clock (internal body clock) actually seems to control the immune system as well and can help keep the body safe from invasion by any bacterial or viral infection. This is at least the conclusion that has been drawn from the recent study which was conducted on mice. While more followup research is likely to take  place,  it is believed to also hold true for humans as well. This study was conducted by the Yale School of Medicine and was published in Immunity.

In short, the time an infection occurs may actually determine how severe it will be and this type of information would be very helpful for medical professionals to know when they are treating a patient.

Essentially all human beings have this circadian clock and perhaps the time you will notice yours the most if when you are in a different time zone and your body still becomes sleepy and hungry at the times it would have in your previous time zone.

For some time now doctors and researchers have recognized the fact that the immune system appears to fluctuate  through out the 24 hour cycle and now with this new research they have discovered why this may be. The protein known as TLR9 is responsible for detecting a virus or bacteria. Researchers measured levels of this protein in mice to see what type of fluctuations occur throughout the day. When the mice were immunized at the peak of their TLR9 activity the immune response was improved.

Additionally, this type of information can help doctors know when the best time to treat certain infections is and also when the immune system will likely be at it’s peak. Drug companies are also looking at this information as a chance to screen drugs at varying times in the day to see if their reactions may vary.