Scientists have discovered that people who regularly sleep for more than 11 hours or less than 4 hours are 2-3 times more likely to have the incurable disease, pulmonary fibrosis, compared to those that sleep for 7 hours in a day. They attribute this association to the body clock.
The research team members are based at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, Newcastle, University College London, and Toronto, as well as Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is funded by the Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust.
Our internal body clocks regulate nearly every cell in the human body, driving 24-hour cycles in many processes such as sleeping, hormone secretion and metabolism.
In the lungs, the clock is mainly located in the main air carrying passages—the airways. However, the team discovered that in people with lung fibrosis, these clock oscillations extend out to the small air spaces, called alveoli.
The researchers then showed, that pulmonary fibrosis is associated with short and long sleep duration using human data from the UK Biobank.
People who report they regularly sleep 4 hours or less in a day doubled their chance of having pulmonary fibrosis while those sleeping 11 hours or longer in a day tripled their chance of having the disease, compared to those sleeping 7 hours per day.
Smaller, but still elevated, risks were also seen in people who like to stay up late at night or those who do shift work.
Dr. John Blaikley from The University of Manchester, who led the project said: “Pulmonary fibrosis is a devastating condition which is incurable at present. Therefore, the discovery that the body clock is potentially a key player potentially opens new ways to treat or prevent the condition.”
More information on study detail: Peter S. Cunningham et al. The circadian clock protein REVERBα inhibits pulmonary fibrosis development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1912109117
Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Provided by University of Manchester