The immune system is more in the morning – Sciences et Avenir

This article is taken from Sciences et Avenir – La Recherche n ° 898, December 2021.

A team from the University of Geneva (Switzerland) has shown that the activity of the immune system oscillates throughout the day with a peak of activity in the morning, before our body resumes its activity. Sciences et Avenir interviewed Christoph Scheiermann, associate professor in the department of pathology and immunology at the University of Geneva and co-author of the study in question, published in the journal Nature Immunology, on October 18, 2021.

Sciences et Avenir: How did you study the rhythms of immunity?

Christoph Scheiermann: We have observed a particular type of immune cell, dendritic cells (DC), whose function is to migrate through the lymphatic vessels to the lymph nodes to initiate an immune response against the arrival of a pathogen. It is this migratory capacity that we evaluate in mice at different times of the day.

How would you describe these variations?

The DCs migrate rhythmically to the lymph nodes of the afferent lymphatic vessels. However, this “rhythmicity” depends jointly on the circadian clock (day / night cycle) of the cells themselves and the environment in which the organism evolves. If the cycle is broken in the environment or in cells, the immune system slows down.

What does this mean?

These oscillations indicate that our body needs the immune system more at certain times of the day, with a peak of activity in the morning. Probably because it has to prepare for a possible pathogen attack just before the start of its active phase.

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