DEC 21, 2016 6:34 PM PST

Boost Your Immune System with An Extra Dose of Sunlight

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Sunlight gives us more than vitamin D, a new study shows. Through a completely separate pathway, sunlight prompts immune cells called T cells to move more quickly through the body, helping them reach infected tissues faster.

Source: Georgetown University

“What we found is a completely separate role of sunlight on immunity," said the study's senior investigator, Gerard Ahern, PhD. "Some of the roles attributed to vitamin D on immunity may be due to this new mechanism."

Blue light from the sun is the specific component that makes T cells move faster, and it can reach through to the second layer of the skin, called the dermis. This explains how the skin successfully protects itself from the microorganisms that it frequently encounters. The skin has nearly twice as many T cells as there are circulating in the blood. Once the blue light from the sun reaches T cells living in the dermis, the newly energized cells then move on to circulate in the blood throughout the entire body.

Blue light is also safer for the skin than ultraviolet light, which is required for vitamin D production. Overexposure to ultraviolet light is associated with skin cancer and melanoma.

Ahern and his team studied the interplay between T cells and blue light by examining isolated T cells and their response to blue light. After being activated by blue light exposure, T cells are triggered to synthesize hydrogen peroxide, which then activates the signaling pathway responsible for the super-energized T cells.

White blood cells, including T cells, release hydrogen peroxide naturally during infection both to kill bacteria and to recruit other immune cells to the infection site to boost the immune response. After discovering the involvement of hydrogen peroxide in the studies with sunlight, Ahern said that the research “all fits together.”

Ahern’s findings contain the first report of a human cell responding to sunlight by increasing its speed, and in the future, therapy based on blue light could be used to boost the immune system.

The study was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: Georgetown University Medical Center

 

 

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 24, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Human Embryo Model is Made From Stem Cells
SEP 24, 2021
A Human Embryo Model is Made From Stem Cells
This photo by Sozen & Jorgensen et al., Nature Communications, shows an embryo-like structure made from human stem cells ...
OCT 05, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Genetic Mutations May Not be Related to the Aging Process
OCT 05, 2021
Genetic Mutations May Not be Related to the Aging Process
As our body ages, cells have to divide to replenish those that become worn out or damaged. Most cells also carry the gen ...
OCT 08, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Research on Cannabis Patches and Topical Lotions to Manage Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
OCT 08, 2021
Research on Cannabis Patches and Topical Lotions to Manage Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
As medical cannabis becomes legalized around the globe, patients need to explore which routes of cannabis delivery best ...
OCT 13, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Fighting Back Against Harmful Algal Blooms
OCT 13, 2021
Fighting Back Against Harmful Algal Blooms
Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, are a common summertime nuisance for people that live near fresh or saltwater all over th ...
OCT 14, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use for Migraine Relief-New Horizons
OCT 14, 2021
Cannabis Use for Migraine Relief-New Horizons
Imagine having to leave a meeting or special occasion to go into a room, close the blinds, lie on the floor, and wait fo ...
OCT 16, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Microtubules Found to Act as Mechanosensors
OCT 16, 2021
Microtubules Found to Act as Mechanosensors
As organisms grow, live, and move through the world, they're subjected to an array of internal and external forces. Biol ...
Loading Comments...