Excessive blue light exposure may accelerate aging, study suggests

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A new study found that when fruit flies were exposed to blue light, their basic cellular functions were negatively impacted.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging, and led by Jadwiga Giebultowicz, PhD, a professor at the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University. Giebultowciz and his team or researchers set out to better understand the effects of excessive blue light exposure on a cellular level.

“Excessive exposure to blue light from everyday devices, such as TVs, laptops, and phones, may have detrimental effects on a wide range of cells in our body, from skin and fat cells to sensory neurons,” said Giebultowicz in a statement. “We are the first to show that the levels of specific metabolites – chemicals that are essential for cells to function correctly – are altered in fruit flies exposed to blue light.”

For their study, researchers exposed one group of flies to high-energy blue light for two weeks while the other group of flies were kept in complete darkness. The scientists then compared the flies’ levels of specific metabolites.

The study’s results showed that blue light exposure led to significant differences in the levels of metabolites measured in the heads of the flies. Specifically, the levels of a metabolites known as succinate were increased, and levels of glutamate were lowered.

Succinate, according to Giebultowicz, is a metabolite that aids in producing the fuel that powers cell growth and function. Glutamate is a molecule responsible for the communication between neurons, explained Giebultowicz.

According to the authors, these altered metabolite levels prevent the cell from optimal function, and could lead to accelerated aging and premature death, suggesting the avoidance of blue light may support anti-aging efforts.

“We used a fairly strong blue light on the flies – humans are exposed to less intense light, so cellular damage may be less dramatic,” said Giebultowicz. “The results from this study suggests that future research involving human cells is needed to establish the extent to which human cells may show similar changes in metabolites involved in energy production in response to excessive exposure to blue light.”