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S-Cone Photoreceptors Regulate Daily Rhythms and Light-Induced Arousal/Wakefulness in Diurnal Grass Rats (<em>Arvicanthis niloticus</em>)

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J Biol Rhythms. 2023 May 24:7487304231170068. doi: 10.1177/07487304231170068. Online ahead of print.


Beyond visual perception, light has non-image-forming effects mediated by melanopsin-expressing, intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs). The present study first used multielectrode array recordings to show that in a diurnal rodent, Nile grass rats (Arvicanthis niloticus), ipRGCs generate rod/cone-driven and melanopsin-based photoresponses that stably encode irradiance. Subsequently, two ipRGC-mediated non-image-forming effects, namely entrainment of daily rhythms and light-induced arousal, were examined. Animals were first housed under a 12:12 h light/dark cycle (lights-on at 0600 h) with the light phase generated by a low-irradiance fluorescent light (F12), a daylight spectrum (D65) stimulating all photoreceptors, or a narrowband 480 nm spectrum (480) that maximized melanopsin stimulation and minimized S-cone stimulation (λmax 360 nm) compared to D65. Daily rhythms of locomotor activities showed onset and offset closer to lights-on and lights-off, respectively, in D65 and 480 than in F12, and higher day/night activity ratio under D65 versus 480 and F12, suggesting the importance of S-cone stimulation. To assess light-induced arousal, 3-h light exposures using 4 spectra that stimulated melanopsin equally but S-cones differentially were superimposed on F12 background lighting: D65, 480, 480 + 365 (narrowband 365 nm), and D65 – 365. Compared to the F12-only condition, all four pulses increased in-cage activity and promoted wakefulness, with 480 + 365 having the greatest and longest-lasting wakefulness-promoting effects, again indicating the importance of stimulating S-cones as well as melanopsin. These findings provide insights into the temporal dynamics of photoreceptor contributions to non-image-forming photoresponses in a diurnal rodent that may help guide future studies of lighting environments and phototherapy protocols that promote human health and productivity.

PMID:37222434 | DOI:10.1177/07487304231170068

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