Intensive light therapy protects against heart attacks - this mechanism of action decodes

Intensive light therapy protects against heart attacks - this mechanism of action decodes

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Is there a new treatment to protect the heart?

Researchers have now identified the mechanism that ensures that intense light provides protection against heart attacks. The light amplifies a gene that strengthens the blood vessels and thus protects against heart attacks.

The current study by the University of Colorado School of Medicine unraveled how intense light protects against heart attacks. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Cell Reports".

What role does the PER2 gene play?

It was already known that intense light can protect against heart attacks, but the researchers have only just found the mechanism responsible for this. They found that placing mice under intense light conditions for a week significantly improves heart protection, which leads to a drastic reduction in damage to the heart tissue after a heart attack. The research team believes that people could potentially benefit from a similar exposure strategy.

The researchers used intensive light to specifically control and manipulate the function of the PER2 gene. The enhancement of this gene by light means that cardiovascular tissues are protected from low-oxygen conditions (which are caused by reduced oxygen flow to the heart) such as myocardial ischemia. The researchers also discovered that light increases cardiac adenosine, which plays a role in blood flow regulation.

Human participants were exposed to intense light

Blind mice did not benefit from the protective effect of the heart on light. This indicates the need for visual light perception in order to benefit from the advantages of light irradiation. The researchers next examined whether intense light had similar effects on healthy human volunteers. The participants were exposed to intense light for 30 minutes. In this case, the volunteers were exposed to LUX 10,000 for five consecutive days. The researchers also performed serial blood tests.

The intensity of the light is very important

The light therapy increased the PER2 levels in the participants as well as in mice. So-called plasma triglycerides decreased significantly as a result of the treatment. Overall, the therapy improved the metabolism. The duration of the light exposure is apparently not as important as the intensity, the researchers report.

Intensive light therapy to prevent myocardial ischemia

It has long been known that light plays a crucial role in cardiovascular health and the regulation of biological processes. The study group noted that previous studies in all states, including sunny locations like Arizona, Hawaii, and California, have shown an increase in myocardial infarction during the darker winter months. The study at the molecular level now shows that intensive light therapy is a promising strategy for the treatment or prevention of low-oxygen conditions such as myocardial ischemia. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Yoshimasa Oyama, Colleen M. Bartman, Stephanie Bonney, J. Scott Lee, Lori A. Walker et al .: Intense Light-Mediated Circadian Cardioprotection via Transcriptional Reprogramming of the Endothelium, in Cell Reports (query: 09.08.2019), Cell Reports

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