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Fonken, L. K., & Nelson, R. J. (2013). Dim light at night increases depressive-like responses in male C3H/HeNHsd mice. Behav Brain Res, 243, 74–78.
Abstract: Daily patterns of light exposure have become increasingly variable since the widespread adoption of electrical lighting during the 20th century. Seasonal fluctuations in light exposure, shift-work, and transmeridian travel are all associated with alterations in mood. These studies implicate fluctuations in environmental lighting in the development of depressive disorders. Here we argue that exposure to light at night (LAN) may be causally linked to depression. Male C3H/HeNHsd mice, which produce nocturnal melatonin, were housed in either a standard light/dark (LD) cycle or exposed to nightly dim (5 lux) LAN (dLAN). After four weeks in lighting conditions mice underwent behavioral testing and hippocampal tissue was collected at the termination of the study for qPCR. Here were report that mice exposed to dLAN increase depressive-like responses in both a sucrose anhedonia and forced swim test. In contrast to findings in diurnal grass rats, dLAN mice perform comparably to mice housed under dark nights in a hippocampus-dependent learning and memory task. TNFalpha and IL1beta gene expression do not differ between groups, demonstrating that changes in these pro-inflammatory cytokines do not mediate dLAN induced depressive-like responses in mice. BDNF expression is reduced in the hippocampus of mice exposed to dLAN. These results indicate that low levels of LAN can alter mood in mice. This study along with previous work implicates LAN as a potential factor contributing to depression. Further understanding of the mechanisms through which LAN contributes to changes in mood is important for characterizing and treating depressive disorders.