Sleep, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and cytokines: Multiple interactions and disturbances in sleep disorders

Alexandros N. Vgontzas, George P. Chrousos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

258 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sleep is an important component of mammalian homeostasis, vital for survival. Sleep disorders are common in the general population and are associated with significant medical, psychologic, and social disturbances. Sleep, in particular deep sleep, has an inhibitory influence on the HPA axis, whereas activation of the HPA axis or administration of glucocorticoids can lead to arousal and sleeplessness. Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, is associated with a 24-hour increase of ACTH and cortisol secretion, consistent with a disorder of central nervous system hyperarousal. Sleepiness and fatigue are very prevalent in the general population, and recent studies have demonstrated that the proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and/ or TNF-α are elevated in disorders associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and idiopathic hypersomnia. Sleep deprivation leads to sleepiness and daytime hypersecretion of IL-6. Combined, these findings suggest that the HPA axis stimulates arousal, while IL-6 and TNF-α are possible mediators of excessive daytime sleepiness in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-36
Number of pages22
JournalEndocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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