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Brain Behav Immun. 2015 Jul;47:14-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.12.008. Epub 2014 Dec 24.

Environmental disruption of the circadian clock leads to altered sleep and immune responses in mouse.

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Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.
Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA. Electronic address:


In mammals, one of the most salient outputs of the circadian (daily) clock is the timing of the sleep-wake cycle. Modern industrialized society has led to a fundamental breakdown in the relationship between our endogenous timekeeping systems and the solar day, disrupting normal circadian rhythms. We have argued that disrupted circadian rhythms could lead to changes in allostatic load, and the capacity of organisms to respond to other environmental challenges. In this set of studies, we apply a model of circadian disruption characterized in our lab in which mice are housed in a 20h long day, with 10h of light and 10h of darkness. We explored the effects of this environmental disruption on sleep patterns, to establish if this model results in marked sleep deprivation. Given the interaction between circadian, sleep, and immune systems, we further probed if our model of circadian disruption also alters the innate immune response to peripheral bacterial endotoxin challenge. Our results demonstrate that this model of circadian disruption does not lead to marked sleep deprivation, but instead affects the timing and quality of sleep. We also show that while circadian disruption does not lead to basal changes in the immune markers we explored, the immune response is affected, both in the brain and the periphery. Together, our findings further strengthen the important role of the circadian timing system in sleep regulation and immune responses, and provide evidence that disrupting the circadian clock increases vulnerability to further environmental stressors, including immunological challenges.


Allostatic load; Biological rhythms; Lipopolysaccharide; Neuroimmune

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