Study says we are more susceptible to viral infections at certain times of the day. More specifically, viruses can do more damage in the morning
Viruses can be more deadly when they attack people in the morning, a new research suggests.
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Researchers from University of Cambridge have found that humans become more vulnerable to viral infections at certain times of day, which are determined by our body clock or a 24 hour cycle occurring in the lives of every human each day. The physical, mental and behavioral changes throughout the day affect the ability of viruses to replicate and spread through the human cells.
There are thousands of viruses which can cause many diseases in humans. When a virus invades a body, it begins making identical viruses from the host cell. In this way, it spreads in the blood stream or nerves and makes us feel ill. However, the rate the viruses spread in a body is not consistent throughout the day. It fluctuates with the changes in cells which respond to our body clock differently at different times of the day.
“The time of day of infection can have a major influence on how susceptible we are to the disease, or at least on the viral replication, meaning that infection at the wrong time of day could cause a much more severe acute infection,” said co-author Professor Akhilesh Reddy said.
“This is consistent with recent studies which have shown that the time of day that the influenza vaccine is administered can influence how effectively it works.”
Body clock, also known as Circadian rhythm, controls different functions of over body including sleeping, waking and body temperatures. It also affects our mood, concentration, memory and hunger.
To find out whether circadian rhythms affects viral infections or their progression, researchers injected mice with herpes virus at different times of the day and measured the level of virus infection and spread. Researchers found that mice infected with the virus in the morning had 10 times higher viral levels than those that were infected in the evening. Since mice and human bodies function substantially similar, these findings could have implications for understanding human’s susceptibility to viruses as well.
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“Each cell in the body has a biological clock that allows them to keep track of time and anticipate daily changes in our environment,” said lead author Dr Rachel Edgar. “Our results suggest that the clock in every cell determines how successfully a virus replicates. When we disrupted the body clock in either cells or mice, we found that the timing of infection no longer mattered – viral replication was always high. This indicates that shift workers, who work some nights and rest some nights and so have a disrupted body clock, will be more susceptible to viral diseases. If so, then they could be prime candidates for receiving the annual flu vaccines.”