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Night-time injuries heal more slowly

11 November 2017

Researchers from the Britain's Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology have found that wounds caused by cuts or burns during the day could heal faster than the wounds which are sustained during the night.

The body clocks, also known as circadian rhythms, control the 24- hour cycles of the human body including the sleeping, hormone secretion, and metabolism.

Night-time burns - suffered between 8pm to 8am - were classed as 95 per cent healed after an average of 28 days, while those suffered between 8am and 8pm took only 17 days to reach the same state.

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The wounds are rapidly repaired during the daytime as collagen, the healing protein is actively depositing in the wounded region immediately after the accident.

Circadian rhythmicity in the skin generates a time of day effect in the efficiency of wound healing.

The scientists, from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, say their findings could help post-operative care and the development of drugs to improve wound healing. Seeking to understand the role for biological clocks in fibroblasts (the most common cell in connective tissue), Nathaniel Hoyle and colleagues profiled the proteins in cultured fibroblasts across two complete circadian cycles.

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"We've shown that the daily cycles in our body clock control how well cells can fix damaged tissue by affecting an essential protein called actin", said lead author Ned Hoyle, with the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. We consistently see about a 2-fold difference in wound healing speed between the body clock's day and night.

Open wounds weren't the only injury that healed more quickly during the day. The authors speculate that resetting cellular clocks prior to surgery could help maximize healing.

"Efficient fix of our skin is critical to preventing infection, and when healing goes wrong, wounds can become chronic or excessive scarring can occur", Hoyle said in a medical research council news release.

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The study's authors said the new information might be useful for patients who are going to have surgery. This research, for the first time, shows how circadian factors are important for wound healing.

Night-time injuries heal more slowly