Sunlight may boost immune system’s T cells

By: Emily Lunardo | Health News | Monday, December 26, 2016 - 05:30 AM

melenomaNatural sunlight exposure is associated with various health benefits, but latest findings suggest it can also help boost infection-fighting T cells of your immune system. T cells play an important role in the immune system functioning and warding off infection, and now researchers uncovered how sunlight can boost their activity.

Senior investigator Gerard Ahern explained, “We all know sunlight provides vitamin D, which is suggested to have an impact on immunity, among other things. But what we found is a completely separate role of sunlight on immunity. Some of the roles attributed to vitamin D on immunity may be due to this new mechanism.”

Specifically, the researchers found that low levels of blue light – found in the sun rays – help move T cells faster.

Ahern added, “T cells, whether they are helper or killer, need to move to do their work, which is to get to the site of an infection and orchestrate a response. This study shows that sunlight directly activates key immune cells by increasing their movement.”

“We know that blue light can reach the dermis, the second layer of the skin, and that those T cells can move throughout the body. We found that sunlight makes hydrogen peroxide in T cells, which makes the cells move. And we know that an immune response also uses hydrogen peroxide to make T cells move to the damage. This all fits together,” he explained.

Ahern suggests extensive additional research is required to better understand how sunlight improves T cells, but the findings may lend way to recommend blue light therapy as a means of boosting one’s immune system.

Sources:
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/gumc-sos121616.php


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