We investigated the effects of continuous artificial light exposure on the mouse substantia nigra (SN). A three month exposure of C57Bl/6J mice to white fluorescent light induced a 30% reduction in dopamine (DA) neurons in SN compared to controls, accompanied by a decrease of DA and its metabolites in the striatum. After six months of exposure, neurodegeneration progressed slightly, but the level of DA returned to the basal level, while the metabolites increased with respect to the control. Three month exposure to near infrared LED light (∼710nm) did not alter DA neurons in SN, nor did it decrease DA and its metabolites in the striatum. Furthermore mesencephalic cell viability, as tested by [3H]DA uptake, did not change. Finally, we observed that 710nm LED light, locally conveyed in the rat SN, could modulate the firing activity of extracellular-recorded DA neurons. These data suggest that light can be detrimental or beneficial to DA neurons in SN, depending on the source and wavelength.
S. Romeo, F. Vitale, C. Viaggi