Health

Lack of sleep negatively impacts immune stem cells, increasing risk of inflammatory disorders and heart disease

Insufficient Sleep and its Impact on Immune Stem Cells. The left side shows the sleep time of the people in the study. Participants in the sleep restriction group, the red dots, slept less during the six-week period. The stem cell analysis is shown on the right side of this figure. The first graph shows that those in the sleep restriction group (red dots) had more stem cell. The rest of this figure represents the DNA structure and reprogramming. The red and the blue colors represent locations in the genome which were rewired. The re-wiring of these genes is shown at the bottom ‘peaks’. Credit: Mount Sinai Health System

According to a new study by the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, chronic insufficient sleep can adversely affect immune cells. This could lead to inflammatory diseases and cardiovascular disease. The risk of developing inflammatory disorders and cardiovascular disease is increased if you lose more than an hour and a quarter of your sleep each night.

The research was published in the September 21st issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, is the first to show that sleep alters the structure of DNA inside the immune stem cells that produce white blood cells—also known as immune cells—and this can have a long-lasting impact on inflammation and contribute to inflammatory diseases. While immune cells fight infection they can also overreact to inflammation if there is too many of them. The study is also first to show that getting up early doesn’t reverse sleep disruption.

“This study begins to identify biological mechanisms that link sleep to immunological health over long-term. It shows that in humans and mice, disrupted sleep has a profound influence on the programming of immune cells and rate of their production, causing them to lose their protective effects and actually make infections worse—and these changes are long-lasting. This is important because this is yet another key observation. It is a reminder that sleep reduces inflammation and that interruptions to sleep increase inflammation,” said Filip Swirski, Ph.D. Director of Icahn Mount Sinai’s Cardiovascular Research Institute.

“This study emphasizes the importance for adults to sleep seven to eight hours per night to prevent inflammation and disease, especially in those with underlying medical conditions.”

A team made up of 14 healthy adults who sleep eight hours a nights. For six weeks, researchers monitored their sleep patterns and analyzed 14 healthy adults who slept at least eight hours per night. They took their blood and analysed their immune cells. For six weeks, the same group reduced their sleep time by an average of 90 minutes per night. Finally, they had their blood and immune cells reanalyzed.

The researchers compared blood and cell samples taken from participants who slept for a full night and those who slept less. All participants had significant changes in their immune cells (also known as hematopoietic cells) due to a lack of sleep—there were more of them, and the DNA structure was altered. After six weeks of sleep restrictions, they experienced an increase number of immune cells.

Researchers also examined the sleep patterns in mouse models. There were two options: groups of mice could sleep undisturbed or they could experience sleep fragmentation where they were awakened throughout 16 weeks. The mice with sleep fragmentation underwent uninterrupted sleep recovery for ten more weeks. Investigators collected immune stem cell and immune cells from the mice during these sleep recovery phases. Then, they analyzed them, compared them, and concluded the experiment.

Results in mice were consistent to human results. They found that mice with fragmented sleeping patterns had significant changes in their immune stem cell production, which led to an increase in immune cells. There was also evidence of rewiring or reprogramming. The most striking finding of the mouse group was that immune stem cells still retained their rewiring structure even after sleep recovery. They also continued to produce white blood cells, making them more susceptible to disease and inflammation.

“Our findings show that poor-quality sleep cannot be reversed completely by sleep recovery. Even after weeks of sleep recovery, we can detect a molecular pattern of insufficient sleep in immune-stem cells. Cameron McAlpine, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology), at Icahn Mount Sinai, is the co-lead investigator.

“It was surprising that not all stem cell clusters responded to insufficient sleep in a similar way. Some stem cell clusters proliferated and grew while others became smaller. This is a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and inflammatory diseases.


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More information:
Cameron McAlpine and colleagues, Sleep has a lasting effect on hematopoietic stem cells function and diversity Journal of Experimental Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1084/jem.20220081

Provided by
Mount Sinai Hospital


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Lack of sleep can adversely impact immune stem cells, increasing the risk of inflammatory diseases and heart disease (2022,September 21).
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