Shift work is associated with systemic chronic inflammation, impaired host and tumor defense and dysregulated immune responses to harmless antigens such as allergens or auto-antigens. Thus, shift workers are at higher risk to develop a systemic autoimmune disease and circadian disruption with sleep impairment seem to be the key underlying mechanisms. Presumably, disturbances of the sleep-wake cycle also drive skin-specific autoimmune diseases, but epidemiological and experimental evidence so far is scarce. This review summarizes the effects of shift work, circadian misalignment, poor sleep, and the effect of potential hormonal mediators such as stress mediators or melatonin on skin barrier functions and on innate and adaptive skin immunity. Human studies as well as animal models were considered. We will also address advantages and potential pitfalls in animal models of shift work, and possible confounders that could drive skin autoimmune diseases in shift workers such as adverse lifestyle habits and psychosocial influences. Finally, we will outline feasible countermeasures that may reduce the risk of systemic and skin autoimmunity in shift workers, as well as treatment options and highlight outstanding questions that should be addressed in future studies.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)
- Centers: Center for Research on Inflammation of the Skin (CRIS)
DFG Research Classification Scheme
- 204-05 Immunology
- 205-19 Dermatology