Time of day affects severity of autoimmune disease – exciting new research

autoimmune, circadian, time, inflammatory arthritis, arthritis digestThe body clock and time of day impact on immune responses, researchers outline in Nature Communications, a finding that may help inform drug-targeting strategies to alleviate autoimmune disease.

Circadian rhythms are generated by the body clock and allow us to anticipate and respond to the 24-hour cycle of the planet.

Maintaining a good body clock is believed to lead to good health for humans. Disrupting the circadian rhythm (such as working night shifts) has been associated with immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Using mice, a team has now found that immune responses and regulation are affected by the time of the day when the immune response is activated.

A circadian gene called BMAL1 is responsible for sensing and acting on time-of-the-day cues to suppress inflammation. Loss of BMAL1, or the onset of autoimmunity at midday instead of midnight, caused more severe multiple sclerosis in mice.

“Our exciting findings suggest that our immune system is programmed to respond better to infection and insults encountered at different times in the 24-hour clock,” says Prof Kingston Mills, who is involved in the work. “This has significant implications for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases and suggests there may be important differences in time of day response to drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases…”

Dr Annie Curtis, one of the authors comments:

“Our study also shows how disruption of our body clocks, which is quite common now given our 24/7 lifestyle and erratic eating and sleeping patterns, may have an impact on autoimmune conditions. We are really beginning to uncover exactly how important our body clocks are for health and wellbeing.”

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