Harvard Medical School investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and researchers at Oregon Health and Science University have now pinned down the influence of the circadian system, uncovering a key role for the biological clock in asthma.

Results of their study are published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Understanding the mechanisms that influence asthma severity could have important implications for both studying and treating asthma.

“This is one of the first studies to carefully isolate the influence of the circadian system from the other factors that are behavioral and environmental, including sleep,” said co-corresponding author Frank Scheer, HMS professor of medicine and director of the Medical Chronobiology Program in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s.

“We observed that those people who have the worst asthma in general are the ones who suffer from the greatest circadian-induced drops in pulmonary function at night, and also had the greatest changes induced by behaviors, including sleep,” added co-corresponding author Steven Shea, director of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health and Science University.

Get the full story at hms.harvard.edu.