Mitochondrial damage and cytoskeleton reorganization in human dermal fibroblasts exposed to artificial visible light similar to screen-emitted light


      • Accurate modeling of artificial visible light emitted by electronic devices.
      • Strong transcriptome response in dermal fibroblasts.
      • Fragmented mitochondrial network in dermal fibroblasts.
      • Disorganized actin cytoskeleton in dermal fibroblasts.
      • Artificial visible light is an additional source of harmful environmental stress.



      Artificial visible light is everywhere in modern life. Social communication confronts us with screens of all kinds, and their use is on the rise. We are therefore increasingly exposed to artificial visible light, the effects of which on skin are poorly known.


      The purpose of this study was to model the artificial visible light emitted by electronic devices and assess its effect on normal human fibroblasts.


      The spectral irradiance emitted by electronic devices was optically measured and equipment was developed to accurately reproduce such artificial visible light. Effects on normal human fibroblasts were analyzed on human genome microarray-based gene expression analysis. At cellular level, visualization and image analysis were performed on the mitochondrial network and F-actin cytoskeleton. Cell proliferation, ATP release and type I procollagen secretion were also measured.


      We developed a device consisting of 36 LEDs simultaneously emitting blue, green and red light at distinct wavelengths (450 nm, 525 nm and 625 nm) with narrow spectra and equivalent radiant power for the three colors. A dose of 99 J/cm2 artificial visible light was selected so as not to induce cell mortality following exposure. Microarray analysis revealed 2984 light-modulated transcripts. Functional annotation of light-responsive genes revealed several enriched functions including, amongst others, the “mitochondria” and “integrin signaling” categories. Selected results were confirmed by real-time quantitative PCR, analyzing 24 genes representing these two categories. Analysis of micro-patterned culture plates showed marked fragmentation of the mitochondrial network and disorganization of the F-actin cytoskeleton following exposure. Functionally, there was considerable impairment of cell growth and spread, ATP release and type I procollagen secretion in exposed fibroblasts.


      Artificial visible light induces drastic molecular and cellular changes in normal human fibroblasts. This may impede normal cellular functions and contribute to premature skin aging. The present results extend our knowledge of the effects of the low-energy wavelengths that are increasingly used to treat skin disorders.


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