The disruption of circadian rhythms by environmental conditions can induce alterations in body homeostasis, from behavior to metabolism. The light:dark cycle is the most reliable environmental agent, which entrains circadian rhythms, although its credibility has decreased because of the extensive use of artificial light at night. Light pollution can compromise performance and health, but underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The present review assesses the consequences induced by constant light (LL) in comparison with dim light at night (dLAN) on the circadian control of metabolism and behavior in rodents, since such an approach can identify the key mechanisms of chronodisruption. Data suggest that the effects of LL are more pronounced compared to dLAN and are directly related to the light level and duration of exposure. Dim LAN reduces nocturnal melatonin levels, similarly to LL, but the consequences on the rhythms of corticosterone and behavioral traits are not uniform and an improved quantification of the disrupted rhythms is needed. Metabolism is under strong circadian control and its disruption can lead to various pathologies. Moreover, metabolism is not only an output, but some metabolites and peripheral signal molecules can feedback on the circadian clockwork and either stabilize or amplify its desynchronization.
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