Correlations between poor sleep and gut bacteria have intrigued medical scientists for years, but the mechanism connecting the two had not been discovered. Researchers from Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal may have uncovered one of the potential links in a recent study published in Nature. A particular immune cell called group 3 innate lymphoid cell (ILC3) which were already known to modulate metabolism, inflammation, and more in the gut apparently varies in number in the GI tract depending on sleep wake cycles.
These ILC3 cells have clock genes which respond to our circadian rhythm as sensed by the brain. Researchers used mice in the study by selectively modifying their brains circadian rhythm circuitry either surgically or genetically. The experimental modifications disrupted the gut microbiome, changed lipid metabolism and affected the ILC3 cell activities.
These ILC3s move in and out of the GI tract as day and night alternates. During the daytime they migrate out of the intestinal mucosa, but return during the night to stimulate repair and deal with inflammation. When sleep patterns are disrupted, gut inflammation and increased fat accumulation occurred.
As we apply these principles to our patients’ needs on a weekly basis, this newly discovered mechanism helps us explain why a good night sleep is good for the gut. A little knowledge is often encouraging for those struggling to make lifestyle choices. Knowing that poor sleep choices work through a specific mechanism to raise or lower gut inflammation serves as a good reminder to shut off the computer screen early enough that their bodies can settle into decent sleep and let their ILC3 cells meander back into the gut lining for healing to begin.
Sharing this knowledge for the benefit of patients’ health is another way we help them live a healthier more abundant life.
Light-entrained and brain-tuned circadian circuits regulate ILC3s and gut homeostasis. Cristina Godinho-Silva, Rita G. Domingues, Miguel Rendas, Bruno Raposo, Hélder Ribeiro, Joaquim Alves da Silva, Ana Vieira, Rui M. Costa, Nuno L. Barbosa-Morais, Tânia Carvalho & Henrique Veiga-Fernandes. Nature September 18, 2019
Thanks to Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326395.php