One-fourth of all deaths in the United States are due to heart disease, making it the leading cause of death for Americans. Disruption of the body’s sleep-wake cycle negatively impacts the cardiovascular system, and may increase one’s risk of heart disease. For example, in a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, only three days of reversed sleep-wake cycles increased blood pressure in healthy adults. Although aging also results in a natural decline of the master clock’s function, the dysfunction can be exacerbated by one’s lifestyle. Night-shift work, frequent jet-lag, eating late at night, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, fatty foods, and sleep deprivation have all been shown to disrupt the body’s master clock function, and they may increase one’s risk of heart disease. But what’s the causal link between disrupted sleep and heart disease? A new scientific collaboration is aimed to answer this question.
Now, Dr. Rudic and Dr. Bagi are collaborating. They are exploring the relationship between Bmal1 and ADAM17 to determine how the master circadian clock is related to the stiffening of blood vessels and consequently to the risk of heart disease. Bagi claims that they have early evidence in their current study that disrupting the master clock – which can happen from drinking too much coffee or sleep deprivation – results in an abnormal increase in amounts of ADAM17. One of their next steps will be to test the idea that the increase in ADAM17 is caused by a change in Bmal1.
To identify points of intervention and therapy for cardiovascular issues, Bagi and Rudic are working hard to identify how exactly the disruptions in the master clock and in Bmal1 effect ADAM17 and result in stiff blood vessels. But they’re making sure to get enough sleep.