Randy Nelson, who chairs the Department of Neuroscience in the WVU School of Medicine, and Courtney DeVries, the John T. and June R. Chambers Chair of Oncology Research at WVU, re-created cardiac arrest in animal models. Doing so temporarily interrupted the brain's oxygen supply. Then the researchers and their colleagues divided the models into three groups that would spend their nights in -- respectively -- dim red light, dim white light and the dark.
After seven nights of this regimen, the researchers evaluated the health of the models' brain cells. Exposure to white light at night caused multiple poor outcomes. The researchers' findings are published in Experimental Neurology.
Cardiac - Arrest - Models - Group - Mortality
Cardiac arrest was more likely to be lethal for models in the white-light-at-night group, whereas the mortality rate in the red-light-at-night group did not differ from the group that stayed in darkness.
Exposure to white light at night also correlated to greater cell death in the hippocampus -- a part of the brain that's key to memory formation -- and more aggressive inflammation overall. In fact, just one dimly illuminated night was enough to cause pro-inflammatory cytokines -- tiny proteins critical to immune responses -- to surge. This was only the case, however, if the light was white. Red light had no effect.
Light - Thing - Morning - Wavelengths - Clock
"When you see long-wavelength, blue light first thing in the morning, those long wavelengths set your circadian clock to precisely 24 hours. The problem is, if you see blue light at night -- from your phones, TVs, computers and compact fluorescent lights -- they're disrupting your circadian system all night long. Those lights look white to us, but frankly, they're mostly blue," explained Nelson, who...
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