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Experimental studies in humans have yielded evidence that adaptive immune function, including the production of antigen-specific antibodies, is distinctly impaired when sleep is deprived at the time of first antigen exposure. Here we examined the effects of a regular 24- hour sleep-wake cycle (including 8 hours of nocturnal sleep) and a 24-hour period of continuous wakefulness on the 7-week antibody production in 11 males and 13 females in response to the H1N1 (swine flu) virus vaccination. The specific antibody titer in serum was assayed by the hemagglutination inhibition test on the days 5, 10, 17, and 52 following vaccination.
In comparison to the sleep group, sleep-deprived males but not females had reduced serum concentration of H1N1-specific antibodies five days after vaccination, whereas antibody titers at later time points did not differ between the conditions.
These findings concur with the notion that sleep is a supportive influence in the very early stage of an adaptive immune response to a viral antigen. However, our results do not support the view that acute sleep deprivation has lasting effects on the human antibody titer response to influenza vaccination.