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Chronic sleep deprivation can negatively affect our immune cells, increasing certain health risks: New study


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Consistently missing an hour and a half of sleep each night can lead to inflammatory disorders and cardiovascular disease, according to a new study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, found that chronic lack of sleep could affect a person’s immune cells and contribute to inflammation in the body.

“An increase in inflammation makes you susceptible to a host of problems, particularly cardiovascular disease,” he told Fox News Digital in an interview.

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McAlpine is one of the researchers who participated in the new study.

Lead author Filip Swirski, Ph.D., director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Icahn Mount Sinai, said in a news release, “This work emphasizes the importance of consistent seven to eight hours of sleep a day for adults to help prevent inflammation and disease, especially for those with underlying medical conditions.

Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, said the lead author of a new study, “to help prevent inflammation and disease, especially for those with underlying medical conditions.”
(iStock)

The researchers said the study begins to identify the mechanisms in the body that link sleep and long-term immune health.

The study revealed that in humans and mice, sleep disturbance can influence cellular programming and the production rate of immune cells; this can cause immune cells to lose their effectiveness in protecting against disease.

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It can also affect the rate of production of these cells and potentially make infections worse.

“Another key observation [is that] that sleep reduces inflammation and, conversely, that interrupted sleep increases inflammation.

The researchers also found worrying evidence in the mouse model study that these effects may be long-lasting.

“This is important because it is another key observation that sleep reduces inflammation and, conversely, sleep disruption increases inflammation,” Swirski said in a news release.

McAlpine told Fox News Digital that the purpose of the study was to better understand how chronic sleep disruption can affect cardiovascular conditions that develop over time due to inflammation.

A new study looked at the long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation, compared to short-term sleep disruption for just a few days.

A new study looked at the long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation, compared to short-term sleep disruption for just a few days.
(iStock)

These findings, he said, may help with research involving other inflammatory diseases and conditions in the body, such as arthritis.

The study looked at the long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation, McAlpine said, compared with short-term sleep interruption for a few days.

He said the study helped identify the biological mechanisms and pathways that link sleep and immune system health over a long period of time.

The group of participants then reduced their sleep time by 90 minutes each night for six weeks, and had their blood drawn and retested.

The researchers looked at 14 healthy adults who regularly slept eight hours a night.

The participants were initially monitored while sleeping for at least eight hours a night for six weeks. The research team took blood samples and analyzed the immune cells of the participants.

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The group of participants then reduced their sleep time by 90 minutes each night for six weeks, and had their blood drawn and retested.

All 14 participants in a new study had "significant changes" in their immune cells that were attributed to lack of sleep, according to the findings.

All 14 participants in a new study had “significant changes” in their immune cells that were attributed to lack of sleep, according to the findings.
(iStock)

The researchers compared blood samples and found that all 14 participants had significant changes in their immune cells that they attributed to lack of sleep.

Blood samples from reduced sleep showed altered DNA structure and increased numbers of immune cells.

Typically, in a heightened state of inflammation, health experts explained to Fox News Digital that there are increased numbers of immune cells.

The elevated state of inflammation in the mice that had fragmented sleep did not reverse even after sleep recovery, McAlpine also told Fox News Digital.

The researchers also looked at the effect of sleep disruption in mice.

In the mouse model, groups of mice were allowed to sleep undisturbed, while another group woke up during the night for 16 weeks.

The mice in the interrupted sleep group then went through uninterrupted sleep recovery for 10 weeks, according to the report.

"Our findings suggest that sleep catch-up cannot completely reverse the effects of poor-quality sleep.  We can detect a molecular fingerprint of insufficient sleep in immune stem cells, even after weeks of catch-up sleep."

“Our findings suggest that sleep catch-up cannot completely reverse the effects of poor-quality sleep. We can detect a molecular fingerprint of insufficient sleep in immune stem cells, even after weeks of catch-up sleep.”
(iStock)

The research team analyzed immune stem cells and cells from groups of mice, and the findings were consistent with the human study, McAlpine said.

“We found in [both] human and mouse models [that] if you disturb sleep, it increases inflammation in the blood.”

The elevated state of inflammation in the mice that had fragmented sleep did not reverse even after sleep recovery, McAlpine also told Fox News Digital.

Not all stem cells responded to sleep deprivation in the same way, he said.

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“Unfortunately, in the human study, we did not assess recovery, but [we] observed recovery in mice. And in mice, we found that some parameters of inflammation returned to regular levels with recovery from sleep; however, not all.”

McAlpine said that some cells remained (after recovery from sleep) that predisposed the mice to inflammation.

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In a press release, the co-investigator said: “Our findings suggest that sleep recovery cannot completely reverse the effects of poor-quality sleep. We can detect a molecular fingerprint of insufficient sleep in immune stem cells, even after weeks of recovery sleep. This … can cause cells to respond inappropriately, leading to inflammation and disease.”

McAlpine told Fox News Digital that the research team plans further studies to understand which genes are being influenced by sleep, or the gene pathways that may respond to sleep. That will allow researchers to understand the impacts of sleep in more detail.





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