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Bumgarner, J. R., Walker, W. H. 2nd, Liu, J. A., Walton, J. C., & Nelson, R. J. (2020). Dim light at night exposure induces cold hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in male mice. Neuroscience, in press.
Abstract: The growing presence of artificial lighting across the globe presents a number of challenges to human and ecological health despite its societal benefits. Exposure to artificial light at night, a seemingly innocuous aspect of modern life, disrupts behavior and physiological functions. Specifically, light at night induces neuroinflammation, which is implicated in neuropathic and nociceptive pain states, including hyperalgesia and allodynia. Because of its influence on neuroinflammation, we investigated the effects of dim light at night exposure on pain responsiveness in male mice. In this study, mice exposed to four days of dim (5 lux) light at night exhibited cold hyperalgesia. Further, after 28 days of exposure, mice exhibited both cold hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia. No heat/hot hyperalgesia was observed in this experiment. Altered nociception in mice exposed to dim light at night was concurrent with upregulated interleukin-6 and nerve growth factor mRNA expression in the medulla and elevated mu-opioid receptor mRNA expression in the periaqueductal gray region of the brain. The current results support the relationship between disrupted circadian rhythms and altered pain sensitivity. In summary, we observed that dim light at night induces cold hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia, potentially through elevated central neuroinflammation and dysregulation of the endogenous opioid system.