Your internal body clock is the reason why wounds heal faster if an injury occurs during the day rather than at night, new research suggests.
Experiments with skin cells and other cells in mice showed that daytime wounds healed about twice as fast as night-time wounds.
Then, when analysing the wound recovery for 118 people with burn injuries, the researchers found that wounds that had occurred at night took 60% longer to heal than those that had occurred during the day.
The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The body clock, also called your circadian rhythm, regulates wound healing by skin cells and optimises healing during the day, the researchers concluded. They added that this could prove helpful for surgery and other medical procedures and might also lead to new drugs to improve wound healing.
Earlier this year three Americans were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for discoveries about the body’s daily rhythms. The researchers isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm. They “were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings”.
Efficient skin repair critical
Circadian rhythms adapt one’s physiology to different phases of the day, influencing sleep, behaviour, hormone levels, body temperature and metabolism.
“We’ve shown that the daily cycles in our body clock control how well cells can repair damaged tissue by affecting an essential protein called actin,” said lead author of the current study Ned Hoyle, with the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.
“Efficient repair of our skin is critical to preventing infection, and when healing goes wrong, wounds can become chronic or excessive scarring can occur,” Hoyle said in a medical research council news release.
“Further research into the link between body clocks and wound healing may help us to develop drugs that prevent defective wound healing or even help us to improve surgery outcomes,” Hoyle added.