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Approved research

Genetic variability associated with shift work tolerance

Principal Investigator: Professor Stale Pallesen
Approved Research ID: 40732
Approval date: December 18th 2018

Lay summary

Scientific rationale: Shift work and night work are common in society. Some cope well and some copy more poorly with such work schedules. The ability to copy well with shift and night work is denoted shift work tolerance. Negative consequences of shift and night work faced by a considerable proportion of shift and night workers are short sleep duration and insomnia. So far, not much is known about genetic factors that might be related to shift work tolerance. The few studies conducted on this topic so far have typically encompassed small samples and have focused on a limited range of genes. Hence, more information about genetic factors related to shift work tolerance is needed. Aims: In the present study, that will be based on the UK Biobank, we aim to investigate associations between poor shift work tolerance (measured in terms of sleep duration and insomnia) and genetics. First, will compare shift workers and night workers with short and normal sleep duration and with and without insomnia with full genome analyses. In both instances we will investigate if the genetic associations are moderated by chronotype (the morning larks - night owls dimension). Following this, we will investigate if genetic variants associated with sleep duration and insomnia in shift and night workers differ from genetic variants associated with sleep duration and insomnia in non-shift workers. Finally, we will investigate if relevant genetic differences exist among those involved in shift and night work and those not involved in that kind of work. The latter might indicate whether certain genetic factors are associated with selection into and out of shift and night work. Project duration: The project period will be maximally 24 months. Public health impact: The project might potentially point to modifiable molecular mechanisms relevant to shift and night work adaptation, but also to mechanisms relevant for circadian adaptation in general and to processes relevant for the understanding of circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Another potential outcome is to use the results to advice shift and night workers and to select workers into and out of shift and night work. In addition, the results may paw the way to tailored occupational interventions to shift- and night workers based on their genetic make-up.