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V Cheung, VM Yuen, GTC Wong and SW Choi
Observational studies have highlighted the detrimental health effects of shift work. The mechanisms through which acute sleep deprivation may lead to chronic disease have not been elucidated, but it is thought that increased DNA damage or decreased repair can lead to disease. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of acute sleep deprivation on DNA damage. This was a cross-sectional observational study on 49 healthy, full-time doctors. Baseline blood was sampled from each participant after three consecutive days of adequate sleep. Participants (n = 24) who were required to work overnight on-site had additional blood sampled on a morning after acute sleep deprivation. DNA damage and expression of DNA repair genes were quantified. Information on health, working patterns and sleep diaries were collected. Independent t-tests were used to compare differences between groups and standardised mean differences expressed as Cohen’s d. Overnight on-site call participants had lower baseline DNA repair gene expression and more DNA breaks than participants who did not work overnight (d = 1.47, p = 0.0001; and 1.48, p = 0.0001, respectively). In overnight on-site call participants, after acute sleep deprivation, DNA repair gene expression was decreased (d = 0.90, p = 0.0001) and DNA breaks were increased (d = 0.87, p = 0.0018). Sleep deprivation in shift workers is associated with adverse health consequences. Increased DNA damage has been linked to the development of chronic disease. This study demonstrates that disrupted sleep is associated with DNA damage. Furthermore, larger prospective studies looking at relationships between DNA damage and chronic disease development are warranted, and methods to relieve, or repair, DNA damage linked to sleep deprivation should be investigated.
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MeSH headings
Adult, Cross-Sectional Studies, DNA Damage, DNA Glycosylases, DNA Repair, DNA-Binding Proteins, Endonucleases, Female, Humans, Male, Physicians, Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm
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