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Circadian Disruption by Light at Night: Implications for Mood
Bedrosian, Tracy A

2013, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program.
Life on Earth has adapted to a consistent 24-h solar cycle. Circadian rhythms in physiology and behavior remain synchronized to the environment using light as the most potent entraining cue. During the past century, however, the widespread adoption of electric light has led to `round-the-clock’ societies. Instead of aligning with the environment, individuals follow artificial and often erratic light cycles created by social and work schedules. In particular, exposure to artificial light at night (LAN), termed “light pollution”, has become pervasive over the past 100 years. Virtually every individual living in the U.S. and Europe experiences this aberrant light exposure, and moreover about 20% of the population performs shift work. LAN may disrupt physiological timekeeping, leading to dysregulation of internal processes and misalignment between behavior and the environment. Recent evidence suggests that individuals exposed to excessive LAN, such as night shift workers, have increased risk for depressive disorders, but the biological mechanism remains unspecified. In mammals, intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) project light information to (1) the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus, regulating circadian rhythms, and (2) to limbic regions, putatively regulating mood. Thus, LAN has the potential to affect both circadian timekeeping and mood. In this dissertation, I present evidence from rodent studies supporting the novel hypothesis that night-time exposure to light disrupts circadian organization and contributes to depressed mood. First, I consider the physiological and behavioral consequences associated with unnatural exposure to LAN. The effects of LAN on circadian output are considered in terms of locomotor activity, the diurnal cortisol rhythm, and diurnal clock protein expression in the brain in Chapter 2. The influence of LAN on behavior and brain plasticity is discussed, with particular focus on depressive-like behavior (Chapter 3) and effects of SSRI treatment (Chapter 4). Effects of LAN on structural plasticity and gene expression in the brain are described, with emphasis on potential correlates of the depressive-like behavior observed under LAN in Chapter 5. Given the prevalence of LAN exposure and its importance, strategies for reversing the effects are offered. Specifically, eliminating LAN quickly reverses behavioral and physiological effects of exposure as described in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6 I report that administration of a pharmacological cytokine inhibitor prevents depressive-like behaviors in LAN, implicating brain inflammation in the behavioral effect. Finally, I demonstrate in Chapter 7 that exposure to red wavelength LAN reduces the effects on brain and behavior, suggesting that LAN acts through specific retinal pathways involving melanopsin. Taken together, these studies demonstrate the consequences of LAN, but also outline potential avenues for prevention or intervention.
Randy Nelson (Advisor)
Jonathan Godbout (Committee Member)
Benedetta Leuner (Committee Member)
A. Courtney DeVries (Committee Member)
151 p.

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Bedrosian, Tracy. "Circadian Disruption by Light at Night: Implications for Mood." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2013. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 29 Mar 2017.

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Bedrosian, Tracy "Circadian Disruption by Light at Night: Implications for Mood." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2013.


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