Exposure to continuous light impairs health

Environmental 24-hr Cycles Are Essential for Health: Current Biology – May 13, 2016

Highlights:

  • Long-term exposure to LL [continuous light] impairs rhythms in the central clock
  • Muscle strength, bone structure, and immune function are reduced by LL exposure
  • Robust environmental rhythms can rescue major health parameters

Summary:

Circadian rhythms are deeply rooted in the biology of virtually all organisms.

The pervasive use of artificial lighting in modern society disrupts circadian rhythms and can be detrimental to our health.

To investigate the relationship between disrupting circadian rhythmicity and disease, we exposed mice to continuous light (LL) for 24 weeks and measured several major health parameters.

Long-term neuronal recordings revealed that 24 weeks of LL reduced rhythmicity in the central circadian pacemaker of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) by 70%.

Strikingly, LL exposure also reduced skeletal muscle function (forelimb grip strength, wire hanging duration, and grid hanging duration), caused trabecular bone deterioration, and induced a transient pro-inflammatory state.

After the mice were returned to a standard light-dark cycle, the SCN neurons rapidly recovered their normal high-amplitude rhythm, and the aforementioned health parameters returned to normal.

These findings strongly suggest that a disrupted circadian rhythm reversibly induces detrimental effects on multiple biological processes  

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