Background: Sleep quality is considered to be an important predictor of immunity. Lack of sleep therefore may reduce immunity, thereby increasing the susceptibility to respiratory pathogens. A previous study showed that reduced sleep duration was associated with an increased likelihood of the common cold. It is important to understand the role of sleep in altering immune responses to understand how sleep deprivation leads to an increased susceptibility to the common cold or other respiratory infections.
Objective: We sought to examine the impact of partial sleep deprivation on various immune markers.
Patients and methods: Fifty-two healthy volunteers were partially sleep deprived for one night. We took blood samples before the sleep deprivation, immediately after, and 4 and 7 days after sleep deprivation. We measured various immune markers and used a generalized estimating equation (GEE) to examine the differences in the repeated measures.
Results: CD4, CD8, CD14, and CD16 all showed significant time-dependent changes, but CD3 did not. The most striking time-dependent change was observed for the mitogen proliferation assay and for HLA-DR. There was a significant decrease in the mitogen proliferation values and HLA-DR immediately after the sleep deprivation experiment, which started to rise again on day 4 and normalized by day 7.
Conclusions: The transiently impaired mitogen proliferation, the decreased HLA-DR, the upregulated CD14, and the variations in CD4 and CD8 that we observed in temporal relationship with partial sleep deprivation could be one possible explanation for the increased susceptibility to respiratory infections reported after reduced sleep duration.
Keywords: Common cold; Immune impairment; Immune markers; Lymphocyte proliferation assays; Respiratory infections; Sleep deprivation.
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