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Sep 22, 2022
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Sleep deprivation causes structural changes in immune stem cells

Sleep deprivation causes structural changes in immune stem cells

Researchers at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine have found that consistently losing 90 minutes of sleep can alter the DNA structure of human immune stem cells, leading to inflammation and disease. Lead study author Dr. Philip Swirsky is director of the Institute for Cardiovascular Research at Icahn Mount Sinai.

“Our scientific work has helped to identify the biological mechanisms that link sleep and immunological health in the long term,” explained Dr. Swirsky. “In humans and mice, disrupted sleep has a profound effect on immune cell programming and production rates, causing them to lose their protective properties and actually exacerbate infections – and these changes are long-term.”

The study involved humans and mice. From each species, the researchers took blood samples and analyzed white blood cell DNA before and during sleep restriction.

The experts found that when sleep was restricted, mice and humans produced more immune cells, and the DNA of those cells was altered. However, in mice, the researchers also noticed that even after they were allowed to return to an unrestricted sleep pattern, their immune stem cells continued to express an altered pattern, and they were more likely to develop inflammation and disease.

“Even restoring sleep can’t help fully reverse the effects of poor sleep quality. We can detect the molecular fingerprint of insufficient sleep in immune stem cells even after weeks of restorative sleep. This molecular fingerprint can cause cells to react inappropriately, leading to inflammation and disease.”

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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