Our research has been directed towards identifying cellular adaptive mechanisms during hypoxic conditions such as myocardial ischemia – one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide.
Epidemiologic studies in humans indicate that susceptibility to hypoxic
events such as ischemic myocardial tissue injury is time-of-the-day dependent,
with more severe injury occurring in the early morning hours after a longer
period without daylight. Current findings from my lab indicate that light-exposure could function to attenuate ischemic myocardial injury. In fact, we observed a time-dependent
reduction in myocardial infarct size and troponin I release following light
treatment. A search for light inducible circadian rhythm proteins revealed a robust induction of cardiac Period 2(Per2) protein levels upon intense light exposure. Based on these findings, we
hypothesize that intense light therapy provides robust cardio-protection by
stabilizing cardiac Per2, thereby leading to concomitant cardio-protection from
ischemia by optimizing metabolism on a cellular level.
The long-term goal of
our studies is to introduce intense light therapy into the hospital to prevent
or treat hypoxic conditions such as myocardial injury in patients, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.