(ORDO NEWS) — Intense light activates proteins that protect against lung injury in mice, and the finding could have important therapeutic implications for the treatment of acute lung injury in humans, according to a new study from scientists at the Anshut University of Colorado Medical Campus.
“Acute lung injury results in a 40% mortality rate,” said study lead author Tobias Ekl, MD, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “There is no specific therapy, so new treatment options are needed.”
The study was published this week in the American Journal of Physiology in the Cellular and Molecular Physiology of the Lung section.
Eckle’s team, who had previously shown that light can protect against cardiovascular disease, placed mice for seven days under intense light rather than ambient light.
This caused a strong increase in the levels of the trough and peak of the lung protein of the circadian rhythm Period 2 or PER2.
If the protein was removed in a specific lung cell known as the type 2 alveolar cell, acute lung injury was fatal. If the protein was not removed, 85% of the mice survived.
It has long been recognized that alveolar cells of the second type play an important role in acute lung injury, but they have never been associated with 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 barrier between blood and air in lung infections.
The researchers observed the same response with the orange peel flavonoid nobiletin, which also increases PER2 amplitude.
At the same time, the researchers found that intense light stimulates the production of BPIFB1, a protein known to be antibacterial and secreted by the mucous membranes of the large airways. They believe that this protein also plays a role in protecting the lungs.
The discovery that intense light can protect against lung damage is significant, Eckle says, given the current lack of therapeutic options for the disease.
“If you develop lung damage, there is essentially no good therapy left,” he said. “Our study has shown that intense light induces protective mechanisms in the lungs, which may lead to new treatments in the future even after the onset of acute lung injury.”
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