Research scientists in Tokyo have been working on resetting the allergic clock in mice to lessen their tendency to allergy.
Our daily circadian clock, which is critical for many of our biological systems, is located in a special area in the hypothalamus of our brain called the light-sensitive central oscillator. It is programmed by the varying exposure to light and dark. In turn, it signals all the peripheral oscillators (clocks) found in individual cells throughout the body. This includes the allergy-causing mast cells.
This nerve signaling is done via the release of “clock” proteins that can activate or suppress the cell function. As it turns out, most mammals, including humans, are least likely to have allergy symptoms the first four hours of the new day, and more likely to have symptoms overnight. In fact, asthma is sometimes called the “nocturnal predator” because of this circadian tendency to flare at night.
The Tokyo researchers used small amounts of one of these “clock” proteins (called casein kinase) to keep the mouse mast cells in the low-reactive mode. It worked amazingly well to lessen both the severity and frequency of their allergic reactions. The next step in this research is to extend these findings to humans.