Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 1331–1339 | Cite as

Sleep deprivation alters neutrophil functions and levels of Th1-related chemokines and CD4+ T cells in the blood

  • Elias A. SaidEmail author
  • Mohammed A. Al-Abri
  • Iman Al-Saidi
  • Mohammed S. Al-Balushi
  • Jumaa Z. Al-Busaidi
  • Iman Al-Reesi
  • Crystal Y. Koh
  • Mohamed A. Idris
  • Ali A. Al-Jabri
  • Omar Habbal
Basic Science • Original Article



The state of knowledge about the effect of sleep deprivation on the immune system is scarce and conflicting. It would therefore be useful to investigate the consequences of sleep deprivation on the immune system. We have studied the effect of sleep deprivation on the changes in neutrophil functions, and the ex vivo proliferative pattern of CD4+ T lymphocytes in relationship with blood cytokine and chemokine levels due to the crucial role of these cells in mounting potent immune responses.


Healthy volunteers were followed for 3 weeks. They had normal sleep in weeks 1 and 3 and they were sleep-deprived on week 2, sleeping < 6 h per 24 h, a pattern similar to sleep behaviors of many chronically sleep-deprived individuals. We assessed the levels of Th1/Th2 and inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, CD4+ T cells, and the NADPH oxidase activation and phagocytic functions in neutrophils.


Our results suggest that sleep deprivation leads to a decreased neutrophil capacity to phagocytose bacteria and activate NADPH oxidase (p < 0.05). Sleep deprivation was associated with a potential increase in CXCL9 levels and decrease in CXCL10/CXCL9 and CCL5/CXCL9 ratios (p < 0.05). Furthermore, our results suggest that the decrease in CD4+ T cell due to sleep deprivation was not associated with changes in their proliferation as observed by Ki67 levels, but rather, it correlated with changes in CXCL10/CXCL9 ratio (p < 0.05).


Sleep deprivation may lead to a decreased phagocytosis and NADPH oxidase activity in neutrophils and a decrease in the levels of CD4+ T cells which is related to changes in the Th1-related chemokine balance.


Neutrophils Chemokines CXCL9 CXCL10 CCL5 CD4+ T cells Sleep deprivation 



We would like to thank the staff of the Microbiology and Immunology and Anatomy Departments in the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, and the staff of the Sleep Medicine Unit in Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH).

Author contributions

EAS, MAA, and OH designed the project, performed some experiments, and participated in data analysis and manuscript writing. IS, MSB, JZB, and IR performed experiments and participated in the manuscript writing. CYK, MAI, and AAJ participated in data analysis and writing the manuscript.

Funding information

This study was supported by the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University (grant # IG/MED/ANAT/13/01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Ethical considerations

All volunteers were informed about this study and signed an informed consent form. This study was approved by the Ethical Committee of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences in the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Oman. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elias A. Said
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohammed A. Al-Abri
    • 2
  • Iman Al-Saidi
    • 1
  • Mohammed S. Al-Balushi
    • 1
  • Jumaa Z. Al-Busaidi
    • 1
  • Iman Al-Reesi
    • 1
  • Crystal Y. Koh
    • 1
  • Mohamed A. Idris
    • 1
  • Ali A. Al-Jabri
    • 1
  • Omar Habbal
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine and Health SciencesSultan Qaboos UniversityMuscatOman
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PhysiologySultan Qaboos University HospitalMuscatOman
  3. 3.Department of Human & Clinical Anatomy, College of Medicine and Health SciencesSultan Qaboos UniversityMuscatOman

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