NOV 07, 2018 2:31 PM PST

Inflammation Can Steal Your Sleep

WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Breehl

The circadian rhythm, the body’s natural time-keeper, when kept in good working order can help to sustain a healthy state. When the circadian rhythm is altered any of the many contributing factors, the host can fall ill. A team of researchers at Northwestern University have published their work in the scientific journal Genes and Development, indicating that inflammation is linked to disturbances in one’s circadian rhythm.

The circadian – aka sleep/wake cycle - rhythm is defined as a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. For the average adult, there is an experience of low-energy during the middle of the night, when they are fast asleep, as well as just after the typical lunch period.

The study described in the journal shares a new technology utilized to turn off and on the genes controlling inflammation in a mouse model. Here, the team shuts off the inflammation pathway by inactivating the NK-kappa beta (NFKB) genetic factor. NFKB is responsible for catalyzing the reactions involved in inflammation that can cause discomfort and tissue damage. By performing shut off, the researchers discovered the mice were no unable to tell what time it was and keep an intact awake/sleep cycle.

"NFKB alters the core processor through which we tell time, and now we know that it is also critical in linking inflammation to rest-activity patterns," said senior author Dr. Joseph Bass, the Charles F. Kettering Professor of Medicine and director of the Center for Diabetes and Metabolism at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Dr. Joseph Bass, the Charles F. Kettering Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Diabetes and Metabolism at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shares that principle behind taking ibuprofen for pain in muscles is very similar because it is dampening the activation of inflammation.

The team also made links to diet-induced inflammation stating that their findings provided a roadmap to understanding the fundamental mechanisms by which inflammation -- including the inflammation that occurs when someone chronically consumes a high-fat diet -- and likely other instigators lead to circadian disorders.

First author Hee-Kyung Hong, research assistant professor of endocrinology at Feinberg says that inflammation is focused on so that they may uncover any links between high-fat-diet and perception of time at a tissue level.

"We don't know the reasons, but this interaction between the inflammation and clocks is not only relevant to understanding how inflammation affects the brain and sleep-wake cycle but also how immune or fat cells work," Hong said.

Sources: Genes and Development, National Sleep Foundation, Science Daily, YouTube

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