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Am J Physiol. 1993 Jun;264(6 Pt 2):R1077-83.

Influence of endotoxin on nocturnal sleep in humans.

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Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Munich, Federal Republic of Germany.


Sleepiness is a common complaint during infectious diseases, but the interaction between sleep and host defense mechanisms has been poorly explored in humans. We therefore studied the effect of endotoxin, a major pathophysiological factor in gram-negative bacterial infections, on sleep and on parameters of the primary host response in men. In a single-blind counterbalanced trial, 15 healthy volunteers received either placebo or Salmonella abortus equi endotoxin (0.4 ng/kg body wt) intravenously on two separate occasions. Nocturnal sleep was recorded, and rectal temperature and the plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and cortisol were monitored for 12 h. Endotoxin reduced the relative amounts of wakefulness (P < 0.05) and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep (P < 0.05) and increased the relative amount of non-REM sleep (P < 0.01). Electroencephalogram delta power during non-REM sleep, as measured by spectral analysis, was not altered by endotoxin. The endotoxin-induced changes in sleep structure were related temporally and quantitatively to the increases in rectal temperature and to the release of cytokines and neurohormones. It is concluded that cytokines and neurohormones mediate the effects of endotoxin upon sleep. The ensuing increase in non-REM sleep may be part of the adaptive host response to bacterial infections in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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