New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 25 points to an intriguing correlation between pre-surgical exposure to blue light and improved outcomes in mice, specifically a reduction in inflammation and organ damage. The article, “Blue light reduces organ injury from ischemia and reperfusion,” was senior authored by Matthew R. Rosengart, MD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery and a secondary faculty member in the Department of Critical Care Medicine. This research was performed in the Department of Surgery and the CRISMA Center, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Department of Critical Care Medicine.
This finding, which is one of the first to consider the complexity of light, builds on early observational studies on the potential role of light in critical illness led by former CRISMA fellow Ricardo Castro, who was mentored by Rosengart and Derek C. Angus, MD, MPH, FRCP, Director of the CRISMA Center and coauthor of the research.
“There’s long been evidence suggesting that light and circadian rhythms profoundly influence our biology, and specifically the physiological response to stress,” said Rosengart in a press release from UPMC. “So while we were expecting to find some correlation with light spectrum and the immune response, we were not expecting results quite so striking.” Because the biology of mice is so distinct from that of humans, Rosengart cautions against interpreting these results too broadly, particularly until human trials are carried out.