Littman also notes that the increased inflammation in the jet-lagged animals was a response to an induced chemical irritation, and more research is needed to prove a link to inflammatory or autoimmune disease.
Hooper agrees that the present study is probably the tip of the iceberg, and more research will yield deepening insight into the relationship between immune cells circadian rhythms. She is hoping to collaborate with other researchers to determine if TH17 cells are increased in humans with chronically altered light cycles. For now, she says, she tries to keep her own sleeping patterns more aligned with nature, starting by limiting exposure to artificial light at night. "I turn off the lights, I draw the curtains, and I keep my iPhone off."
This is adapted from ScienceNOW, the online daily news service of the journal Science. http://news.sciencemag.org