Researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have published research on how disruption of the body clock can lead to increased inflammation in the lungs, which may have negative effects on chronic lung diseases and respiratory infections.
The paper, published in The FASEB Journal, looked at the molecular clock in fibroblasts, a cell type which is abundant in the lung. When the regular rhythm of the fibroblast clock was lost, it resulted in an increased inflammatory response and therefore, worse symptoms.
This could have implications for individuals such as shift workers or people with erratic sleeping/eating patterns in that they are more likely to experience more severe respiratory infections.
Lead author Shannon Cox, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at RCSI, said, “this study links together previous knowledge to confirm the importance of lung fibroblasts in inflammation and highlights the negative consequences of disruption to our circadian clock, such as poor night-time sleep, in lung disease. We can apply this understanding when developing therapies and interventions for patients.”
Disturbing the circadian clock in lung fibroblasts impacts their usual function to recruit other immune cells to the lungs. More cells than are needed are brought to the lungs, resulting in damaging inflammation.
This study pinpoints lung fibroblasts as a potential target in the treatment of lung diseases that display this kind of inflammation, a change in approach from most current therapeutic options which focus on easing symptoms rather than treating the cause.
The majority of this study was supported through funding provided to Professor Annie Curtis by the Science Foundation Ireland Career Development Award (CDA) programme and by the Irish Research Council through a Laureate Award.
Further support was provided by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grant, a Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds travel grant and an RCSI School of Postgraduate Studies International Secondment Award.