Why Do Nighttime Injuries Heal More Slowly?
Skin cells that heal wounds work more slowly at night than they do during the day, due in part to circadian rhythm – our body’s internal clock, according to a new study that suggests patients who undergo surgery at certain times of the day may recover more quickly.
In the past, it was believed that circadian rhythm was controlled solely by cells in the brain’s hypothalamus. But recent studies have shown that cells in other parts of the body – the lungs and liver, for example – regulate their own schedule.
To learn more about this process, researchers at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K., studied skins cells called fibroblasts, which are involved in wound healing. They found that proteins that activate the cells and direct them to an injury to begin the healing process do so during the daytime. Then the researchers examined data from the International Burn Injury Database and discovered that burns that occurred at night took 11 days longer to heal, on average, than those that occurred during the day. Results of this study were published in Science Translational Medicine.