Disrupted body clock and inflammatory disease linked

10 January 2022

Cell rhythms disrupted by an irregular body clock could contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and arthritis, diabetes and cancer.

So says a study in Frontiers in Immunology, which found factors such as erratic eating, sleeping patterns or shift work can disrupt circadian rhythms and thus the body’s immune cells known as macrophages.

These cells then produce molecules that drive inflammation.

Researchers found that macrophages without a body clock took up far more glucose and broke it down more quickly than normal cells.

The study also found that, in cell mitochondria, the pathways by which glucose was further broken down were very different in macrophages without a clock. This led to further inflammation through the production of reactive oxygen species. Senior author Dr Annie Curtis concluded: ‘Anything which negatively impacts on our body clocks [...] can impact on the ability of our immune system to work effectively.’

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