Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science : JAALAS

The influence of red light exposure at night on circadian metabolism and physiology in Sprague-Dawley rats.

PMID 25651090


Early studies on rodents showed that short-term exposure to high-intensity light (> 70 lx) above 600 nm (red-appearing) influences circadian neuroendocrine and metabolic physiology. Here we addressed the hypothesis that long-term, low-intensity red light exposure at night (rLEN) from a 'safelight' emitting no light below approximately 620 nm disrupts the nocturnal circadian melatonin signal as well as circadian rhythms in circulating metabolites, related regulatory hormones, and physi- ologic parameters. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 12 per group) were maintained on control 12:12-h light:dark (300 lx; lights on, 0600) or experimental 12:12 rLEN (8.1 lx) lighting regimens. After 1 wk, rats underwent 6 low-volume blood draws via cardiocentesis (0400, 0800, 1200, 1600, 2000, and 2400) over a 4-wk period to assess arterial plasma melatonin, total fatty acid, glucose, lactic acid, pO2, pCO2, insulin, leptin and corticosterone concentrations. Results revealed plasma melatonin levels (mean ± 1 SD) were high in the dark phase (197.5 ± 4.6 pg/mL) and low in the light phase (2.6 ± 1.2 pg/mL) of control condi- tions and significantly lower than controls under experimental conditions throughout the 24-h period (P < 0.001). Prominent circadian rhythms of plasma levels of total fatty acid, glucose, lactic acid, pO2, pCO2, insulin, leptin, and corticosterone were significantly (P < 0.05) disrupted under experimental conditions as compared with the corresponding entrained rhythms under control conditions. Therefore, chronic use of low-intensity rLEN from a common safelight disrupts the circadian organization of neuroendocrine, metabolic, and physiologic parameters indicative of animal health and wellbeing.