Dong K, Goyarts EC, Pelle E, Trivero J, Pernodet N. Blue light disrupts the circadian rhythm and create damage in skin cells. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2019;41(6):558-562. doi:10.1111/ics.12572
On a daily basis, the skin is exposed to many environmental stressors and insults. Over a 24-h natural cycle, during the day, the skin is focused on protection; while at night, the skin is focused on repairing damage that occurred during daytime and getting ready for the next morning. Circadian rhythm provides the precise timing mechanism for engaging those different pathways necessary to keep a healthy skin through clock genes that are present in all skin cells. The strongest clue for determining cellular functions timing is through sensing light or absence of light (darkness). Here, we asked the question if blue light could be a direct entrainment signal to skin cells and also disrupt their circadian rhythm at night. Through a reporter assay for per1 transcription, we demonstrate that blue light at 410 nm decreases per1 transcription in keratinocytes, showing that epidermal skin cells can sense light directly and control their own clock gene expression. This triggers cells to “think” it is daytime even at nighttime. Elsewhere, we measured different skin cell damage because of blue light exposure (at different doses and times of exposure) vs. cells that were kept in full darkness. We show an increase in ROS production, DNA damage and inflammatory mediators. These deleterious effects can potentially increase overall skin damage over time and ultimately accelerates ageing.