Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Noah Ashley (Director), Michael Smith, Ajay Srivastava

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Sleep loss is a common problem in humans who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep aids in the regulation of immune responses, some of which induce inflammatory responses. Cytokines regulate the inflammatory process and are released in response to sleep fragmentation (SF) in mice. Glucocorticoids are hormones that are released from the adrenal cortices during a stress response and are considered to be anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive at high doses but may stimulate immune function on an acute level. The first hypothesis tested was that normal physiological expression of glucocorticoids (Sham) will display increased IL-1β and TNFα expression levels, while high concentrations of glucocorticoids (Sham + CORT) will reduce inflammatory responses compared to ADX mice. It was also hypothesized that mice subjected to acute SF (ASF) will display elevated levels of IL-1β and TNFα compared to control mice (CON). Lastly, female mice will also show an increased response in pro-inflammatory cytokines compared to males. To examine this possibility, male and female C57BL6/J mice were subjected to adrenalectomy (ADX), ADX + corticosterone (CORT; the major stress hormone in mice), Sham, or Sham + CORT and then exposed to either acute (24 h) SF or no SF. The results from this study shed light on some of the impacts of sleep loss on increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines, however many of these effects were mitigated by corticosterone. Generally, corticosterone enhanced inflammatory responses on an at normal physiological levels, but at high doses these inflammatory phenotypes were diminished. This study also showed differences in responses by males and females, with females generally having increased expression of IL-1β and TNFα. These findings will aid scientists and doctors to iv hopefully gain a better understanding of the effects of sleep loss and how glucocorticoids mediate these responses in a sex- and tissue-dependent manner. Development of treatments targeting responses detrimental to human health may be able to provide a better of quality of life for individuals that experience sleep loss.


Biology | Endocrinology | Laboratory and Basic Science Research | Life Sciences | Physiology