The importance of sleep for protection against infections?
If people get too little sleep, this has a negative impact on their physical and mental health, and their overall performance. It is believed that adequate sleep is important for the immune system and defence against pathogens. How exactly sleep affects certain immune functions, tried now experts in their new research, to educate.
The scientists from the German University of Tübingen in combination with the University of Lübeck in your current investigation of a new mechanism, by means of our sleep, the immune system promotes. The doctors published the results of their study in the English journal “the Journal of Experimental Medicine”.
Lack of sleep impairs the function of T-cells
The team of experts around Dr. Luciana Besedovsky and Dr. Stoyan Dimitrov from the tübingen Institute for Medical psychology and Behavioral neurobiology, and Dr. Tanya Long from the Bay of lübeck, clinic for rheumatology and clinical immunology, could subjects of the study indicate that already after three hours without sleep, the function of the so-called T-cells was impaired. These white blood cells normally combat the task of pathogens.
A group of subjects was not allowed to sleep
The physicians recruited subjects for a 24-hour Experiment. The Participants were divided into two different groups. A group of subjects was allowed to sleep at night for the period of eight hours. The other group had to stay for the entire period of the experiment, awake. During the 24 hours the Participants in regular intervals, blood was taken off.
What is adhesion?
The researchers were particularly interested in the binding of T-cells thickness of a molecule called ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1), which allows you to other cells attach. This process is also referred to as adhesion. T-cells in circulation to circulate constantly in the blood and to look for pathogens. “The adhesion to other cells allows you to move around in the body and, for example, in infected cells, to dock, to eliminate them,” explained study author Dr. Stoyan Dimitrov in a press release. If the subjects were suffering from lack of sleep, this has an impact on the adhesion ability of T-cells. Participants without sleep-a significantly reduced the adhesion ability of T-cells.
The blood plasma was also investigated
For further investigation of the influence of sleep on T cell function, the Participants from both groups was extracted from Plasma from the blood. In the Plasma of various soluble substances, such as hormones. This Plasma was then passed for a few minutes on isolated T-cells. The Plasma of the Participants who had not slept, was a significantly decreased adhesion ability when compared with well-rested subjects, the physicians explain.
Suppression of T-cell function could be reversed
This occurring, the suppression of T-cell function could make the Team, however, in a further Experiment, undo. The experts blocked a certain class of receptors, the so-called Gas-coupled receptors. Via these receptors, the stress hormone, epinephrine, and prostaglandins act for example. These hormones play an important role in inflammation. “This shows that already short sleep deprivation to activate the soluble substances of these receptors and also the adhesion of the T-interfere with cells,” says study author Dr. Luciana Besedovsky. Some of the soluble molecules, which bind to this receptor class, such as adrenaline, prostaglandins, and the neurotransmitter, adenosine, affect the adhesion strongly, if they are given directly to the T-cells. In some pathological conditions, the same values show elevated values, for example, in the case of chronic Stress, or cancer.
Three hours without sleep to reduce the function of immune cells
“This means that our findings have also outside of the sleep research and clinical relevance. Could you explain why the immune system some diseases are suppressed,“ says Dr Tanja Lange. “Already three hours without sleep is enough to reduce the function of important immune cells. Our results show a possible basic mechanism by which sleep with us in the everyday battle against infections,“ adds Dr. Luciana Besedovsky. (as)