Effects of sleep and circadian rhythm on the human immune system

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Apr;1193:48-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05300.x.

Abstract

Many immune parameters show systematic fluctuations over the 24-h day in human blood. Circulating naive T-cells and production of proinflammatory cytokines, like interleukin-12 (IL-12), peak during nighttime, whereas cytotoxic effector leukocytes and production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 peak during daytime. These temporal changes originate from a combined influence of the circadian system and sleep. Both brain functions act synergistically and share neuroendocrine effector mechanisms to convey control over immune functions. Sympathetic tone and cortisol levels show a circadian nadir during nighttime and are further suppressed by sleep, whereas growth hormone and prolactin show a circadian peak during nighttime and are further enhanced by sleep. Thus, the circadian system and sleep jointly evoke a unique endocrine constellation that is extremely effective in inducing changes in leukocyte traffic and a shift toward proinflammatory type 1-cytokines during the nocturnal period of sleep, that is, an action with strong clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / physiology
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-12 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Prolactin / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology

Substances

  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-12
  • Prolactin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone