Extraocular light exposure does not suppress plasma melatonin in humans

Steven W. Lockley, Debra J. Skene*, Kavita Thapan, Judie English, David Ribeiro, Iris Haimov, Shelagh Hampton, Benita Middleton, Malcolm von Schantz, Josephine Arendt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Light affects the circadian axis in at least two ways. It can cause the acute suppression of pineal melatonin synthesis, and/or a phase-shift of the circadian oscillator. As recent evidence has suggested that extraocular light exposure may cause phase-shifts of the circadian clock, we have investigated whether suppression of melatonin can be induced by the same type of light exposure. In the first study subjects' eyes were exposed to white light (2250 lux for 30 mins) via a fibre optic cable. As expected, suppression of nighttime plasma melatonin levels (61 ± 6%) was observed. In the second study, light of the same quality but higher intensity (14,000 or 67,500 lux for 180 mins) was delivered in the same manner to the popliteal region behind the subjects' knees, whilst shielding their eyes. No suppression of plasma melatonin levels (4 ± 7%) was detected in any of the subjects. Thus, extraocular photoreception, if it exists in mammals, does not affect the suprachiasmatic nucleipineal pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3369-3372
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume83
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1998
Externally publishedYes

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