Study suggests time of day and MS severity link

December 19, 2017
A new study offers insights into how the body clock and time of day influence immune responses. Understanding the effect of the interplay between 24-hour day-night cycles and the immune system may help inform drug-targeting strategies to alleviate multiple sclerosis.
 
Circadian rhythms, or 24-hour rhythms, are generated by the body clock, allowing us to anticipate and respond to the 24-hour cycle of our planet. Maintaining a good body clock is generally believed to lead to good health for humans, and disrupting the circadian rhythm (for example: working night shifts) has been associated with multiple sclerosis. However, the underlying molecular links have been unclear.
 
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons, in Ireland, used mice to show that a master circadian gene, BMAL1, is responsible for sensing and acting on time-of-the-day cues to suppress inflammation. Loss of BMAL1, or induction of autoimmunity at midday instead of midnight, causes more severe mouse model MS.
 
Results of mouse model studies sometimes do not translate to humans and may be years away from being a marketable treatment. However, the researchers said that their study shows how disruption of our body clocks may have an effect on autoimmune conditions.
 
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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