Wednesday, January 19

Researchers find new link between disrupted body clock and inflammatory disease

November 24, 2021: New research from RCSI has demonstrated the important role that an irregular body clock plays in driving inflammation in the body’s immune cells, with implications for the most serious and widespread diseases in humans.

Posted in Frontiers in Immunology , the research was led by the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences of the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The circadian biological clock generates 24 hour rhythms that keep humans healthy and on time with the day / night cycle. This includes regulating the rhythm of the body’s own immune (innate) cells called macrophages. When these cellular rhythms are disrupted (due to things like erratic eating / sleeping patterns or shiftwork), cells produce molecules that lead to inflammation. It can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, obesity, arthritis, diabetes and cancer, and also impact our ability to fight infections.

In this study, researchers looked at these key immune cells called macrophages with and without a body clock under laboratory conditions. They were interested in understanding whether macrophages without a body clock could use or “metabolize” fuel differently, and if that might be the reason why these cells produce more inflammatory products.

The researchers found that macrophages without a body clock take in much more glucose and break it down faster than normal cells. They also found that in mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells), the pathways by which glucose was broken down to produce energy were very different in macrophages without a clock. This led to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which further fueled the inflammation.

Dr George Timmons, lead author of the study, said: “Our findings add to the growing body of work showing why disruption in our body clock leads to inflammatory and infectious diseases, and one aspect is the use of fuel at the level of key immune cells such as macrophages. ”

Dre Annie Curtis , senior lecturer at the RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences and lead author of the article, added: “This study also shows that anything that has a negative impact on our body clock, such as insufficient sleep and not enough sleep. daylight, can impact our immune system’s ability to function effectively. “

RCSI conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from Swansea University, Trinity College Dublin and the University of Bristol.


For more information, please contact:

Rosie Duffy, agente de communication, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

About RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is a world leading university for good health and well-being. Ranked second in the world for its contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, it focuses exclusively on education and research to improve human health around the world.

RCSI is an international non-profit university, headquartered in Dublin. It is among the top 250 universities in the world in the World University Rankings (2022) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. RCSI has received Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for Positive Gender Practice in Higher Education.

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