Sleep strongly impacts both humoral and cellular immunity; however, its acute effects on the innate immune defense against pathogens are unclear. Here, we elucidated in mice whether sleep affects the numbers and functions of innate immune cells and their defense against systemic bacterial infection. Sleep significantly increased numbers of classical monocytes in blood and spleen of mice that were allowed to sleep for six hours at the beginning of the normal resting phase compared to mice kept awake for the same time. The sleep-induced effect on classical monocytes was neither caused by alterations in corticosterone nor myelopoiesis, bone marrow egress or death of monocytes and did only partially involve Gαi-protein coupled receptors like chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2), but not the adhesion molecules intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) or lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1). Notably, sleep suppressed the expression of the clock gene Arntl in splenic monocytes and the sleep-induced increase in circulating classical monocytes was abrogated in Arntl-deficient animals, indicating that sleep is a prerequisite for clock-gene driven rhythmic trafficking of classical monocytes. Sleep also enhanced the production of reactive oxygen species by monocytes and neutrophils. Moreover, sleep profoundly reduced bacterial load in blood and spleen of mice that were allowed to sleep before systemic bacterial infection and consequently increased survival upon infection. These data provide the first evidence that sleep enhances numbers and function of innate immune cells and therewith strengthens early defense against bacterial pathogens.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)