Recent studies show that alterations in the body's biological rhythms can lead to serious pathologies, including cancer. Acute and chronic ethanol consumption impairs the immune system by causing specific defects in the cellular components of the innate immune response and by creating increased risk and susceptibility to infections and cancer. NK cells are critical for immune surveillance against infected and malignant cells. To assess whether NK cell function follows a circadian trend and to determine ethanol effects on this rhythm, we measured, over a 24-h period, mRNA and protein levels of granzyme B, perforin, and the cytokine IFN-γ, as well as NK cell activity, in the splenocytes of ad libitum-fed, pair-fed, and ethanol-fed Sprague Dawley male rats. Circadian rhythms were found in mRNA and protein levels of granzyme B, perforin, and IFN-γ. A circadian pattern was also detected in NK cell cytolytic activity. Our data further demonstrated how chronic ethanol suppressed NK cell activity by directly disrupting the circadian rhythms of granzyme B, perforin, and IFN-γ. These findings identify the circadian functions of splenic NK cells and show the vulnerability of these rhythms to chronic ethanol.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy