It is often understood that the immune system works the same regardless of the time of day when an infection hits the body, but apparently, this was a misconception. Scientists have found out that the immune system works differently depending on the time of day, thanks to the body’s circadian rhythm.
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Our body clock has evolved over millions of years to help us survive. Every cell in the body has a collection of proteins that indicate the time depending on their levels. Knowing whether it’s day or night means our body can adjust its functions and behaviours (such as when we want to eat) to the correct time.
Our body clock does this by generating 24 hour rhythms (also termed circadian rhythms) in how cells function. For example, our body clock ensures that we only produce melatonin as night falls, as this chemical makes us tired – signalling it’s time for sleep.
Our immune system is composed of many different types of immune cells that are continually patrolling the body looking for evidence of infection or damage. But it is our body clock that determines where those cells are located at particular times of the day.
This means that the effect of viruses, medicines, and even vaccines, may be stronger or weaker depending on the time of day.
More about this over at The Conversation.
(Image Credit: qimono/ Pixabay)