The circadian clock regulates multiple aspects of human physiology including immunity. People have a circadian preference termed chronotype. Those with an evening preference may be better suited to shift work, but also carry higher risk of adverse health. Shift work leads to misalignment of circadian rhythms and is associated with increased risk of inflammatory disease such as asthma and cancer. Here, we investigate the association between chronotype, shift work, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The associations between exposures of shift work and chronotype on risk of RA were studied in up to 444,210 U.K. Biobank participants. Multivariable logistic regression models were adjusted for covariates: age, sex, ethnicity, alcohol intake, smoking history, Townsend Deprivation Index (TDI), sleep duration, length of working week, and body mass index (BMI). After adjusting for covariates, individuals with a morning chronotype had lower odds of having rheumatoid arthritis (RA; odds ratio [OR]: 0.93, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.88-0.99) when compared to intermediate chronotypes. The association between morning chronotype and RA persisted with a more stringent RA case definition (covariate-adjusted OR: 0.89, 95% CI: 0.81-0.97). When adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, and TDI, shift workers had higher odds of RA (OR: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.1-1.36) compared to day workers that attenuated to the null after further covariate adjustment (OR: 1.1, 95% CI: 0.98-1.22). Morning chronotypes working permanent night shifts had significantly higher odds of RA compared to day workers (OR: 1.89, 95% CI: 1.19-2.99). These data point to a role for circadian rhythms in RA pathogenesis. Further studies are required to determine the mechanisms underlying this association and understand the potential impact of shift work on chronic inflammatory disease and its mediating factors.
J Biol Rhythms
chronotype, circadian, epidemiology, rheumatoid arthritis, shift work