Sleep deprivation and the consequent circadian clock disruption has become an emergent health question being associated with premature aging and earlier chronic diseases onset. Night-shift work leads to circadian clock misalignment, which is linked to several age-related diseases. However, mechanisms of this association are not well understood. Aim of this study is to explore in night-shift workers early indicators of oxidative stress response and biological aging [oxidized/methylated DNA bases and leukocytes telomere length (LTL)] and late indicators of functional aging [lung function measurements (FEV1 and FVC)] in relation to personal evaluation of work capacity, measured by work ability index (WAI). One hundred fifty-five hospital workers were studied within the framework of a cross-sectional study. We collected physiological, pathological, and occupational history including pack-years, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and night shifts, together with blood and urine samples. Relationships were appraised by univariate and multivariate ordered-logistic regression models. We found that workers with good and excellent WAI present higher FEV1 (p< 0.01) and number of night-work shifts (p<0.05), but they reveal higher urinary levels of 8-oxoGua (p<0.01) and shorter LTL (p<0.05). We confirmed that higher work ability was prevalent among chronological younger workers (p<0.05), who have also a significant reduced number of diseases, particularly chronic (p<0.01) and musculoskeletal diseases (p<0.01). The new findings which stem from our work are that subjects with the highest work ability perception may have more demanding and burdensome tasks; they in fact present the highest number of night-shift work and produce unbalanced oxidative stress response that might induce premature aging.
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