Immune system: Scientists identify the exact time of day to stimulate the defenses

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Elia Tabuenca García
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A new study has identified why our immune systems are most active at a certain time of day

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous

A new study has identified why our immune systems are most active at a certain time of day

The immune system also follows the "biorhythm" and is more active and receptive at particular times of the day. According to a new one search, the circadian clocks that regulate most of the physiological processes of living beings on a rhythm of about 24 hours, are one of the biological mechanisms most important. By deciphering the cell migration mechanisms underlying the immune response, a group of scientists has shown thatactivation of the immune system is modulated according to the time of day. In fact, the migration of immune cells from the skin to the lymph nodes fluctuates within 24 hours.

Immune function is maximal in the resting phase, just before activity resumes, early in the morning for humans. These findings suggest that time of day should eventually be considered when administering cancer vaccines or immunotherapies in order to increase their efficacy.

Unlike the innate immune system, which reacts immediately but not in a targeted manner, the adaptive immune system builds a specific long-term response for each infectious agent. This takes weeks to form a response, which then lasts for a long time thanks to a cellular memory mechanism. 

A systematic review

To understand the role of circadian rhythms on immune activation, the researchers looked at the migration of dendritic cells from the skin to the lymphatic system, one of the pillars of the adaptive immune response. Located in many peripheral organs, including the skin, dendritic cells migrate through the lymphatic vessels to the lymph nodes, where antigens are presented to trigger an immune response against an oncoming pathogen.

Additional data also indicates that if the immune system is stimulated at different times of the day, the same fluctuations appear with a peak in the morning. But why is the immune system governed by an oscillatory rhythm? The circadian rhythms work as an energy saving system, to make the best use of resources according to the most immediate needs. 

Could this be a way to alert the immune system at times when the risk of exposure to pathogens is greatest, through food ingestion and / or social interactions? Likewise, could we be more vulnerable to pathogens in the evening and at night? Impossible to say for the moment.

However, the importance of the circadian rhythm on the immune system has only recently been revealed, and it could be of primary importance both for preventive vaccination and for the administration of anticancer therapies or for the management of autoimmune diseases. 

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Photos: Nature

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