Environmental Circadian Disruption Elevates the IL-6 Response to Lipopolysaccharide in Blood

Kandis L. Adams, Morehouse School of Medicine
Oscar Castanon-Cervantes, Morehouse School of Medicine
Jennifer A. Evans, Marquette University
Alec J. Davidson, Morehouse School of Medicine

Journal of Biological Rhythms, Vol. 28, No. 4 (August 2013): 272-277. DOI.


The immune system is regulated by circadian clocks within the brain and immune cells. Environmental circadian disruption (ECD), consisting of a 6-h phase advance of the light:dark cycle once a week for 4 weeks, elevates the inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) both in vivo and in vitro. This indicates that circadian disruption adversely affects immune function; however, it remains unclear how the circadian system regulates this response under ECD conditions. Here, we develop an assay using ex vivo whole-blood LPS challenge to investigate the circadian regulation of immune responses in mice and to determine the effects of ECD on these rhythms. LPS-induced IL-6 release in whole blood was regulated in a circadian manner, peaking during subjective day under both entrained and free-running conditions. This LPS-induced IL-6 release rhythm was associated with daily variation in both white blood cell counts and immune cell responsiveness. ECD increased the overall level of LPS-induced IL-6 release by increasing immune cell responsiveness and not by affecting immune cell number or the circadian regulation of this rhythm. This indicates that ECD produces pathological immune responses by increasing the proinflammatory responses of immune cells. Also, this newly developed whole blood assay can provide a noninvasive longitudinal method to quantify potential health consequences of circadian disruption in humans.