Comparative study of the activity/rest rhythms in young and old ringdove (Streptopelia risoria): Correlation with serum levels of melatonin and serotonin

Sergio Paredes, Ma Pilar Terrón, Javier Cubero, Vicente Valero, Carmen Barriga, Russel Reiter, Ana Rodríguez

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Aging is characterized by changes in the circadian rhythms of melatonin, serotonin, and sleep/wakefulness, alterations that affect sleep quality. The authors studied the circadian rhythms of serotonin and melatonin in young and old ringdoves ( Streptopelia risoria ) (2-3 and 10-12 yrs old, respectively), animals that are characterized by being monophasic and active by day, like humans. The aim was to correlate the indole rhythms with the animals' activity/rest periods. The animals were kept under a 12:12 h light/dark cycle, fed ad libitum, and housed in separate cages equipped for activity recording. Activity pulses were recorded with one actometer per animal (two perpendicular infrared transmitters) and were logged every 15 min by a computer program (DAS 16) throughout the experiment. Melatonin was measured by radioimmunoassay and serotonin by ELISA at intervals of 3 h (from 09:00 to 18:00 h) and 1 h (from 21:00 to 06:00 h), respectively. The results showed a reduction in nocturnal vs. diurnal activity of 89% and 61% in the young and old animals, respectively, with 100% considered to be the diurnal activity of each group. The amplitude of a cosine function fit to the melatonin concentrations of the old animals was half that of the young birds. The acrophase and nadir were at 02:00 and 14:00 h in the young and 01:00 and 13:00 h in the old animals, respectively. The amplitude of the corresponding cosine function fit to the serotonin concentrations in the old birds was one-third that of the young animals. The acrophase and nadir were at 15:00 and 03:00 h in the young and 16:00 and 04:00 h in the old animals, respectively. For both melatonin and serotonin, the concentrations in the young animals were significantly higher than in the old at most of the measurement times. There was a clear negative correlation between the circadian rhythms of activity and the serum melatonin levels in both young and old animals. The equivalent correlation for serotonin was positive, and stronger in the case of the young animals. The results suggest a possible relationship between the observed decline in the amplitude of the old animals' melatonin and serotonin rhythms and the lower percentage reduction in their nocturnal relative to diurnal activity pulses compared to the young animals. In conclusion, the circadian rhythms of melatonin and serotonin undergo alterations with age that could be involved in the changes in age-associated sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-793
Number of pages15
JournalChronobiology international
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006



  • Activity/rest rhythms
  • Aging
  • Birds
  • Melatonin
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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