Light at night disrupts diel patterns of cytokine gene expression and endocrine profiles in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Ila Mishra, Reinhard M. Knerr, Alexander A. Stewart, Wesley I. Payette, Melanie M. Richter, Noah T. Ashley

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29 Scopus citations


Increased exposure to light pollution perturbs physiological processes through misalignment of daily rhythms at the cellular and tissue levels. Effects of artificial light-at-night (ALAN) on diel properties of immunity are currently unknown. We therefore tested the effects of ALAN on diel patterns of cytokine gene expression, as well as key hormones involved with the regulation of immunity, in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Circulating melatonin and corticosterone, and mRNA expression levels of pro- (IL-1β, IL-6) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines were measured at six time points across 24-h day in brain (nidopallium, hippocampus, and hypothalamus) and peripheral tissues (liver, spleen, and fat) of zebra finches exposed to 12 h light:12 h darkness (LD), dim light-at-night (DLAN) or constant bright light (LLbright). Melatonin and corticosterone concentrations were significantly rhythmic under LD, but not under LLbright and DLAN. Genes coding for cytokines showed tissue-specific diurnal rhythms under LD and were lost with exposure to LLbright, except IL-6 in hypothalamus and liver. In comparison to LLbright, effects of DLAN were less adverse with persistence of some diurnal rhythms, albeit with significant waveform alterations. These results underscore the circadian regulation of biosynthesis of immune effectors and imply the susceptibility of daily immune and endocrine patterns to ALAN.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15833
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

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© 2019, The Author(s).

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