Ongoing Research Funded by DHF

Can Probiotics Improve Circadian Sleep Rhythms and Symptoms in Ulcerative Colitis Patients?

2022  | Disease: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Principal Researcher: Fred W. Turek, PhD

Principal Investigator: Fred W. Turek, PhD, Charles and Emma Morrison Professor, Northwestern Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Experiments in animal models of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) have shown that disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms increases susceptibility to intestinal inflammation. In addition, studies in patients with IBD have found alterations in the circadian clock that may indicate pervasive sleep problems. Despite these connections, little is known about how sleep and circadian rhythms are involved in gut health, or if strategies to promote sleep and reduce stress can mitigate the risk for intestinal inflammation.  Alterations in the intestinal bacteria (microbiome) and abnormal host responses to these bacteria may be contributing factors to the development of IBD. Recent studies have revealed links between the microbiome, circadian rhythms, and the sleep-wake cycle. In previous work, Dr. Turek’s team found that a probiotic promoted resilience to sleep restriction and acute stress exposure. In this project, the investigators are determining if a probiotic can also protect against intestinal inflammation and pathology in a mouse model of colitis. The potential for probiotics to improve sleep and decrease disease activity is an exciting avenue of study that may provide low risk options to improve the daily lives of IBD patients.

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