- The impact of shift work induced chronic circadian disruption on IL-6 and TNF-α immune responses (2010)
- Aim: Sleep disturbances induce proinflammatory immune responses, which might increase cardiovascular disease risk. So far the effects of acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep illnesses on the immune system have been investigated. The particular impact of shift work induced chronic circadian disruption on specific immune responses has not been addressed so far. Methods: Pittsburgh-Sleep-Quality-Index (PSQI) questionnaire and blood sampling was performed by 225 shift workers and 137 daytime workers. As possible markers the proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha and lymphocyte cell count were investigated. A medical examination was performed and biometrical data including age, gender, height, weight, waist and hip circumference and smoking habits were collected by a structured interview. Results: Shift workers had a significantly higher mean PSQI score than day workers (6.73 vs. 4.66; p < 0.001). Day workers and shift workers had similar serum levels of IL-6 (2.30 vs. 2.67 resp.; p = 0.276), TNF-alpha (5.58 vs. 5.68, resp.; p = 0.841) or lymphocytes count (33.68 vs. 32.99, resp.; p = 0.404). Furthermore there were no differences in cytokine levels (IL-6 p = 0.761; TNF-alpha p = 0.759) or lymphocyte count (p = 0.593) comparing the sleep quality within the cohorts. When this calculation of sleep quality was stratified by shift and day workers irrespective of their sleep quality day workers and shift workers had similar serum levels of IL-6, TNF-alpha or lymphocytes count. Multiple linear regression analysis showed a significant correlation of lymphocytes count and smoking habits. Conclusion: Shift work induces chronic sleep debt. Our data reveals that chronic sleep debt might not always lead to an activation of the immune system, as we did not observe differences in lymphocyte count or level of IL-6 or TNF-alpha serum concentration between shift workers and day workers. Therefore chronic sleep restriction might be eased by a long-term compensating immune regulation which (in healthy) protects against an overstimulation of proinflammatory immune mechanisms and moderates metabolic changes, as they are known from short-term sleep deprivation or sleep related breathing disorders.