Light at night exacerbates metabolic dysfunction in a polygenic mouse model of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Life Sci. 2019 Aug 15;231:116574. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2019.116574. Epub 2019 Jun 14.


Aims: Electric lighting is beneficial to modern society; however, it is becoming apparent that light at night (LAN) is not without biological consequences. Several studies have reported negative effects of LAN on health and behavior in humans and nonhuman animals. Exposure of non-diabetic mice to dim LAN impairs glucose tolerance, whereas a return to dark nights (LD) reverses this impairment. We predicted that exposure to LAN would exacerbate the metabolic abnormalities in TALLYHO/JngJ (TH) mice, a polygenic model of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Materials and methods: We exposed 7-week old male TH mice to either LD or LAN for 8-10 weeks in two separate experiments. After 8 weeks of light treatment, we conducted intraperitoneal glucose tolerance testing (ipGTT) followed by intraperitoneal insulin tolerance testing (ipITT). In Experiment 1, all mice were returned to LD for 4 weeks, and ipITT was repeated.

Key findings: The major results of this study are i) LAN exposure for 8 weeks exacerbates glucose intolerance and insulin resistance ii) the effects of LAN on insulin resistance are reversed upon return to LD, iii) LAN exposure results in a greater increase in body weight compared to LD exposure, iv) LAN increases the incidence of mice developing overt T2DM, and v) LAN exposure decreases survival of mice with T2DM.

Significance: In conclusion, LAN exacerbated metabolic abnormalities in a polygenic mouse model of T2DM, and these effects were reversed upon return to dark nights. The applicability of these findings to humans with T2DM needs to be determined.

Keywords: Diabetes; Glucose tolerance; Insulin resistance; Light at night; Metabolic dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Baroreflex
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weight
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Heart Rate
  • Hemodynamics
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Light
  • Lighting / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Norepinephrine
  • Weight Gain


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Norepinephrine