Swiss and German researchers have discovered that the body’s immune system can vary in levels of activity, depending on the time of day.
In studies with mice, a team from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and Ludwigs-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany, monitored how cells that control the adaptive immune system - which provides longer-term, as opposed to short-term immunity - become active over the course of 24-hours in response to the body’s internal clock.
They found that in mice without this internal clock, immune cells were not in sync, meaning that immune response across the whole day was slow.
However, in normal mice, peaks of high immune system activity were seen just before the mouse would normally wake up, in the late afternoon.
The scientists hope that with this improved understanding of when the immune system is at its best, it may be possible to time vaccines or cancer immunotherapy to receive the best response.