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Light's Impact on Metabolism Beyond the Biological Clock!

Exciting research by Feng Rao and Tian Xue, published in @NatureMetabolism, reveals that light affects our metabolism in ways that go beyond just regulating our circadian rhythms. Their study sheds light on novel clock-independent mechanisms by which light exposure or deprivation directly impacts glucose homeostasis, thermogenesis, and other metabolic activities.


Key novel findings include:


  • Light influences metabolic processes via brain circuits initiated by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells and direct stimulation of opsins in tissues like the hypothalamus, adipose tissue, blood vessels, and skin.

  • These clock-independent mechanisms help regulate glucose uptake, mitochondrial activation, thermogenesis, sympathetic tone, lipolysis, food intake, blood pressure, and melanogenesis.

  • Dysregulated light exposure, such as environmental night light or shift work, can lead to metabolic diseases.

This research opens new avenues for understanding and treating metabolic disorders, highlighting the crucial role of managing light exposure for optimal health.


Rao, F. and T. Xue, Circadian-independent light regulation of mammalian metabolism. Nature Metabolism, 2024.

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