Pineal melatonin levels were compared in laboratory-raised or wild-captured 13-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) that were either exposed to 10 h of darkness at night or to light which had an irradiance of 400 μW/cm2. In laboratory-born squirrels the period of darkness was associated with a gradual rise in pineal melatonin levels with peak values being reached at 0200 h, 6 h after darkness onset. Thereafter, melatonin levels decreased and were back to low daytime levels by 0800 h, 2 h after light onset. The exposure of laboratory-raised animals to an irradiance of 400 μW/cm2 during the night totally prevented the nocturnal rise in pineal melatonin levels in these animals. In wild-captured ground squirrels the period of darkness at night was associated with a rapid rise in pineal melatonin such that by 2200 h, 2 h after lights out, peak melatonin values were already attained; additionally, melatonin levels remained high throughout the period of darkness but returned to daytime values by 0800 h. Exposure of wild-captured squirrels to a light irradiance of 400 μW/cm2 during the normal dark period was completely incapable of suppressing pineal melatonin levels. The difference in the sensitivity of the pineal gland of laboratory-raised and wild-captured ground squirrels may relate to their previous lighting history.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)