Effects of light therapy on sleep/wakefulness, daily rhythms, and the central orexin system in a diurnal rodent model of seasonal affective disorder

Allison Costello, Katrina Linning-Duffy, Carleigh Vandenbrook, Kevin Donohue, Bruce F. O'Hara, Antony Kim, Joseph S. Lonstein, Lily Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Bright light therapy (BLT) is the first-line treatment for seasonal affective disorder. However, the neural mechanisms underlying BLT are unclear. To begin filling this gap, the present study examined the impact of BLT on sleep/wakefulness, daily rhythms, and the wakefulness-promoting orexin/hypocretin system in a diurnal rodent, Nile grass rats (Arvicanthis niloticus). Methods: Male and female grass rats were housed under a 12:12 h light/dark cycle with dim light (50 lx) during the day. The experimental group received daily 1-h early morning BLT (full-spectrum white light, 10,000 lx), while the control group received narrowband red light for 4 weeks. Sleep/wakefulness and in-cage locomotor activity were monitored, followed by examination of hypothalamic prepro-orexin and orexin receptors OX1R and OX2R expression in corticolimbic brain regions. Results: The BLT group had higher wakefulness during light treatment, better nighttime sleep quality, and improved daily rhythm entrainment compared to controls. The impact of BLT on the orexin system was sex- and brain region-specific, with males showing higher OX1R and OX2R in the CA1, while females showed higher prepro-orexin but lower OX1R and OX2R in the BLA, compared to same-sex controls. Limitations: The present study focused on the orexin system in a limited number of brain regions at a single time point. Sex wasn't a statistical factor, as male and female cohorts were run independently. Conclusions: The diurnal grass rats show similar behavioral responses to BLT as humans, thus could be a good model for further elucidating the neural mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of BLT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume332
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Bright light therapy
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Diurnal rodent
  • Orexin
  • Sleep
  • Wakefulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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