Courtesy of Xiaofei Yu, Shipra Vaishnava and Yuhao Wang
Jet lag goofs up more than just sleep schedules: Tinkering with the body's clock confuses the immune system too.
In mice, a type of immune cell linked to inflammation depends on daily cycles of light and dark, researchers report in the Nov. 8 Science. The finding could help explain the connection between inflammatory diseases and chronic clock disruptions, such as those experienced by frequent fliers and night shift workers.
“This has implications for all of us,” says study author Lora Hooper, an immunologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “None of us go to sleep when the sun sets or get up when the sun rises.” Soaking up artificial light when it’s dark outside might predispose people to immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, she says.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.