Researchers of a new study suggest a specific gene when exposed to intense light can strengthen blood vessels, which can help protect against cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks. Light therapy is believed to enhance cardioprotection.
Amplifying a gene, known as PER2 gene, via light also helps protect cardiovascular tissues against low oxygen conditions like myocardial ischemia. For the study, the team housed a group of mice under intense light conditions for a week. The team noticed this helped reduce cardiac tissue damage after experiencing a heart attack. Scientists believe this light exposure strategy could also similarly benefit humans.
Through the study, the team also found light exposure helped increase cardiac adenosine, a chemical that plays an important role in blood flow regulation. However, they also determined that visual light perception is required as mice with vision loss did not receive cardioprotection through this form of therapy.
The team also tested the effects of light therapy on human participants. All the volunteers were exposed to intense light, measured in lumens, for about 30 minutes. They were exposed to the light for five days in a row. The team found the light therapy also increased PER2 levels in humans. Carbohydrate metabolism and plasma triglycerides also reduced drastically. It also helped improve their metabolism.
"We already knew that intense light can protect against heart attacks, but now we have found the mechanism behind it," senior author of the study Tobias Eckle told a news portal.
Eckle further explained: "Giving patients light therapy for a week before surgery could increase cardioprotection. 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 cardioprotection."
The study's findings were originally published in the journal Cell Reports.