Inflammation, which is the root cause of autoimmune disorders including arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn's disease, has unexpected effects on body clock function and can lead to sleep and shiftwork-type disorders. The study was published in the journal Genes & Development.
The study used a genetic switch to turn inflammation on and off in genetically modified mouse models. When deactivated inflammation, the mouse was unable to tell what it was and was unable to keep an intact rest-activity cycle.
In addition to this new technology, the study was novel because, for the first time, scientists saw a link between what causes inflammation and what controls the body's clock. In inflammatory diseases, the body experiences an excess of a genetic factor known as NF-kappa beta (NFKB), the study found.
NFKB is a catalyst for a set of chain reactions, or pathway, that leads to pain and tissue destruction patients feel in inflammatory diseases. That same chain-reaction catalyst also controls the body's clock.
NFKB alters the core processor through which we tell time, and now we know that it is also critical in linking inflammation to rest-activity patterns. When people have sore muscles and take an ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation.
The findings also have implications for diet and provide a detailed roadmap to understanding the fundamental mechanisms by which inflammation including the inflammation that occurs when someone chronically consumes a high-fat diet and likely other instigators lead to circadian disorders.
One of the reasons Western diet contributes to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain cancers is thought to be the inappropriate trigger of inflammation, so unifying idea is that impaired time-keeping may be one of the links between diet and disease.
We do not know the reasons, but this interaction between the inflammation and clocks is not only relevant to how inflammation affects the brain and sleep-wake cycle but also how immune or fat cells work.