Immune alterations after selective rapid eye movement or total sleep deprivation in healthy male volunteers

Innate Immun. 2012 Feb;18(1):44-54. doi: 10.1177/1753425910385962. Epub 2010 Nov 18.


We investigated the impact of two nights of total sleep deprivation (SD) or four nights of rapid eye movement (REM) SD on immunological parameters in healthy men. Thirty-two volunteers were randomly assigned to three protocols (control, total SD or REM SD). Both SD protocols were followed by three nights of sleep recovery. The control and REM SD groups had regular nights of sleep monitored by polysomnography. Circulating white blood cells (WBCs), T- (CD4/CD8) and B-lymphocytes, Ig classes, complement and cytokine levels were assessed daily. Two nights of total SD increased the numbers of leukocytes and neutrophils compared with baseline levels, and these levels returned to baseline after 24 h of sleep recovery. The CD4(+) T-cells increased during the total SD period (one and two nights) and IgA levels decreased during the entire period of REM SD. These levels did not return to baseline after three nights of sleep recovery. Levels of monocytes, eosinophils, basophils and cytokines (IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, TNF-α and IFN-γ) remained unchanged by both protocols of SD. Our findings suggest that both protocols affected the human immune profile, although in different parameters, and that CD4(+) T-cells and IgA levels were not re-established after sleep recovery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Cell Count
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin A / genetics
  • Male
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Deprivation / immunology*
  • Sleep, REM / immunology*
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Complement System Proteins