The Progression of Circadian Phase during Light Exposure in Animals and Humans

Domien G. M. Beersma*, Marian Comas, Roelof A. Hut, Marijke C. M. Gordijn, Melanie Rueger, Serge Daan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Studies in humans and mice revealed that circadian phase shifting effects of light are larger at the beginning of a light exposure interval than during subsequent exposure. Little is known about the dynamics of this response reduction phenomenon. Here the authors propose a method to obtain information on the progression of phase during light exposure. Phase response curves to intervals of light exposure over a wide range in duration are available for flesh flies, mice, and humans. By comparing the phase shifts induced by pulses of various durations but starting at the same circadian phase, the progression of phase during a long interval (hours) of light exposure is reconstructed for each of these 3 species. For flies, the phase progression curves show that light pulses-if long enough eventually make the pacemaker stabilize around InT18 (near subjective dusk), as is typical for strong resetting. The progression of phase toward the final value never shows advances larger than 7 h, while delays can be as large as 18 h. By applying the phase progression curve method presented in this study, differences between advances and delays in type-0 phase response curves can be distinguished clearly. In flesh flies (Sarcophaga) this bifurcation between delays and advance occurs when light exposure starts at InT0 (subjective midnight). The present study confirms earlier findings in mice showing that the beginning of the light pulse generates stronger phase shifts than subsequent hours of light. Response reduction is complete within 1 h of exposure. It is argued that the variation is not so much due to light adaptation processes, but rather to response saturation. In contrast to light adaptation, response saturation is fundamental to proper functioning of the circadian pacemaker during natural entrainment. For understanding entrainment of the pacemaker to natural light, phase progression curves in which naturalistic light profiles are applied could be an important tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2009

Keywords

  • adaptation
  • saturation
  • fly
  • mouse
  • human
  • RETINAL GANGLION-CELLS
  • MICE MUS-MUSCULUS
  • SUPRACHIASMATIC NUCLEUS
  • BRIGHT LIGHT
  • MELATONIN SUPPRESSION
  • RESPONSE CURVE
  • PACEMAKER
  • ENTRAINMENT
  • MELANOPSIN
  • ADAPTATION

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