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Physiol Genomics. 2012 Nov 1;44(21):1003-12. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00058.2012. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

Whole blood genome-wide gene expression profile in males after prolonged wakefulness and sleep recovery.

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Departamento de Psicobiologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Although the specific functions of sleep have not been completely elucidated, the literature has suggested that sleep is essential for proper homeostasis. Sleep loss is associated with changes in behavioral, neurochemical, cellular, and metabolic function as well as impaired immune response. Using high-resolution microarrays we evaluated the gene expression profiles of healthy male volunteers who underwent 60 h of prolonged wakefulness (PW) followed by 12 h of sleep recovery (SR). Peripheral whole blood was collected at 8 am in the morning before the initiation of PW (Baseline), after the second night of PW, and one night after SR. We identified over 500 genes that were differentially expressed. Notably, these genes were related to DNA damage and repair and stress response, as well as diverse immune system responses, such as natural killer pathways including killer cell lectin-like receptors family, as well as granzymes and T-cell receptors, which play important roles in host defense. These results support the idea that sleep loss can lead to alterations in molecular processes that result in perturbation of cellular immunity, induction of inflammatory responses, and homeostatic imbalance. Moreover, expression of multiple genes was downregulated following PW and upregulated after SR compared with PW, suggesting an attempt of the body to re-establish internal homeostasis. In silico validation of alterations in the expression of CETN3, DNAJC, and CEACAM genes confirmed previous findings related to the molecular effects of sleep deprivation. Thus, the present findings confirm that the effects of sleep loss are not restricted to the brain and can occur intensely in peripheral tissues.

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