Rapid resetting of human peripheral clocks by phototherapy during simulated night shift work

Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 24;7(1):16310. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16429-8.


A majority of night shift workers have their circadian rhythms misaligned to their atypical schedule. While bright light exposure at night is known to reset the human central circadian clock, the behavior of peripheral clocks under conditions of shift work is more elusive. The aim of the present study was to quantify the resetting effects of bright light exposure on both central (plasma cortisol and melatonin) and peripheral clocks markers (clock gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, PBMCs) in subjects living at night. Eighteen healthy subjects were enrolled to either a control (dim light) or a bright light group. Blood was sampled at baseline and on the 4th day of simulated night shift. In response to a night-oriented schedule, the phase of PER1 and BMAL1 rhythms in PBMCs was delayed by ~2.5-3 h (P < 0.05), while no shift was observed for the other clock genes and the central markers. Three cycles of 8-h bright light induced significant phase delays (P < 0.05) of ~7-9 h for central and peripheral markers, except BMAL1 (advanced by +5h29; P < 0.05). Here, we demonstrate in humans a lack of peripheral clock adaptation under a night-oriented schedule and a rapid resetting effect of nocturnal bright light exposure on peripheral clocks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Line
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / blood
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Shift Work Schedule
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Melatonin
  • Hydrocortisone