Researchers have demonstrated the importance of good-quality sleep time and time again, showing that a solid night’s rest can contribute to many aspects of physical and mental health.
A new study has explained how sleep contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system.
A study recently conducted by a team from the University of Tübingen in Germany found a mechanism linking sleep to the functioning of the immune system.
The researchers who led this study found that a good night’s sleep can boost the effectiveness of certain specialized immune cells called T cells.
In the study paper — which now appears in the Journal of Experimental Medicine — the scientists explain what lies at the core of this relationship between sleep and the body’s defenses against infection.
The mechanism that disrupts T cells
T cells contribute to the body’s immune response when a potentially harmful foreign body enters the system.
These immune cells recognize pathogens then activate integrins, which are a type of protein that allows T cells to attach to and tackle their targets.
‘Sleep could enhance T cell responses’
They took T cells from some volunteers who slept and some who remained awake. After analyzing these samples, Dimitrov and team saw that the T cells of sleeping people had higher levels of integrin activation (compared with the same cells taken from people in a waking state.
So, the authors note, this indicates that sleep has a positive impact on the correct functioning of T cells as part of the body’s immune response.
“Our findings show that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of T cell responses, which is especially relevant in light of the high prevalence of sleep disorders and conditions characterized by impaired sleep, such as depression, chronic stress, aging, and shift work.”
In the future, the authors hope that their results could lead to the development of new therapies boosting T cell function, which would have numerous applications — including in cancer immunotherapy.
This is an article snippet. The full article appeared in Medical News Today, and was written by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. You can read it here.