Light activates the adrenal gland: Timing of gene expression and glucocorticoid release

Atsushi Ishida, Tatsushi Mutoh, Tomoko Ueyama, Hideki Bando, Satoru Masubuchi, Daiichiro Nakahara, Gozoh Tsujimoto, Hitoshi Okamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

410 Citations (Scopus)


Light is a powerful synchronizer of the circadian rhythms, and bright light therapy is known to improve metabolic and hormonal status of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, although its mechanism is poorly understood. In the present study, we revealed that light induces gene expression in the adrenal gland via the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN)-sympathetic nervous system. Moreover, this gene expression accompanies the surge of plasma and brain corticosterone levels without accompanying activation of the hypothalamo-adenohypophysial axis. The abolishment after SCN lesioning, and the day-night difference of light-induced adrenal gene expression and corticosterone release, clearly indicate that this phenomenon is closely linked to the circadian clock. The magnitude of corticostereone response is dose dependently correlated with the light intensity. The light-induced clock-dependent secretion of glucocorticoids adjusts cellular metabolisms to the new light-on environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
JournalCell Metabolism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Nov
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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