Study says it boosts proteins that may protect against acute lung injury as seen with COVID-19
Intense light activates proteins shown to protect against lung injury in mice, a finding that could have major therapeutic implications for the treatment of diseases such as acute lung injury in humans, according to a researcher. new study by researchers at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.
“Acute lung injury has a 40% mortality rate,” said study lead author Tobias Eckle, MD, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “No specific therapy exists and new treatment options are needed.”
The study was published this week in the American Journal of Physiology — Cellular and Molecular Physiology of the Lung.
Eckle’s team, which has previously demonstrated that light can protect against cardiovascular disease, housed mice in bright rather than ambient light for seven days. This resulted in a large increase in trough and peak levels of the pulmonary circadian rhythm protein – Period 2 or PER2.
If the protein was deleted in a specific lung cell known as an alveolar cell type 2, acute lung injury was fatal. If the protein was not deleted, 85% of the mice survived. Type 2 alveolar cells have long been recognized as playing an important role in acute lung injury, but have never been linked to the light-regulated protein PER2.
The study also showed that intense light therapy reduced lung inflammation or improved the function of the alveolar barrier – the blood-air barrier – in lung infections. The researchers found the same reaction when using the flavonoid, nobiletin, found in orange peel, which also improves PER2 amplitude.
At the same time, the researchers discovered that intense light stimulated the production of the BPIFB1 protein, known to be antibacterial and secreted in the mucous membranes of the large respiratory tract. They think it also probably plays a role in protecting the lungs.
Finding that intense light can protect against lung damage, Eckle said, is important because of the lack of currently available therapies to treat the disease.
“If you develop lung damage, there’s hardly any good therapy left,” he said. “Our study showed that lung protective mechanisms triggered by intense light could lead to new therapies even after the onset of acute lung injury in the future.”
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Material provided by University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Original written by David Kelly. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.