Scientists to find out how intense light protects cardiovascular health

Based on a recent study carried out by a team of researchers from University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, it has been observed that intense light can help to amplify a specific gene which boosts blood vessels, in addition to offering protection against heart attacks.

On the basis of an experiment which housed mice for a week’s time under intense light conditions, it was revealed that the source of intense light could enable cardio protection. Moreover, it was also found that the therapy resulted into reduction of cardiac tissue damage caused after a heart attack.  Additionally experts added that humans can benefit from the strategy of a similar light exposure.

The experts developed a strategy in order to protect the heart by means of an intense light to target and control the function of PER2 gene, present in a circadian pattern in the part of brain which controls the circadian rhythms.

The experts then amplified the gene with the help of light and they came to the conclusion that the light safeguarded the cardiovascular tissues against low oxygen conditions such as myocardial ischemia which also caused a reduced oxygen flow to the heart.

The researchers also concluded that the light augmented cardiac adenosine, which is a chemical that is significant for carrying out blood flow regulation. It was however observed that blind mice did not benefit from cardio protection and it indicated to the necessity for visual light perception.

The team also examined if intense light could have similar effects on human volunteers. This was done on the basis of participants which were exposed to 30 minutes of intense light, measured in lumens (LUX). Through the experiment, participants were exposed to 10,000 LUX on five consecutive days. In addition, experts also conducted a serial blood draw.

It was observed that the light therapy boosted the PER2 levels as in mice. Furthermore, the level of insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate metabolism decreased and the therapy overall improved metabolism.

“The most dramatic event in the history of earth was the arrival of sunlight,” commented Tobias Eckle, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Sunlight caused the great oxygen event. With sunlight, trillions of algae could now make oxygen, transforming the entire planet,” he added.

Eckle also reported that the intensive light therapy on basis of a molecular level promised a strategy in preventing and treating low oxygen conditions like myocardial ischemia. He also added, that the therapy offered the benefit of protection against injury to the heart muscle, if it is given before a high risk cardiac and non-cardiac surgery.

“Giving patients light therapy for a week before surgery could increase cardio protection,” Eckle commented. “Drugs could also be developed that offer similar protections based on these findings. However, future studies in humans will be necessary to understand the impact of intense light therapy and its potential for cardio protection.”

The study has been published recently in the journal Cell Reports.