Melanopsin system dysfunction in Smith-Magenis syndrome patients

Mirella Telles Salgueiro Barboni, Clarissa Bueno, Balázs Vince Nagy, Patrícia Lobo Maia, Kallene Summer Moreira Vidal, Rosana Cardoso Alves, Russel J. Reiter, Fernanda Gaspar Do Amaral, José Cipolla-Neto, Dora Fix Ventura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS) causes sleep disturbance that is related to an abnormal melatonin profile. It is not clear how the genomic disorder leads to a disturbed synchronization of the sleep/wake rhythm in SMS patients. To evaluate the integrity of the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell (ipRGC)/melanopsin system, the transducers of the light-inhibitory effect on pineal melatonin synthesis, we recorded pupillary light responses (PLR) in SMS patients. METHODS. Subjects were SMS patients (n = 5), with molecular diagnosis and melatonin levels measured for 24 hours and healthy controls (n = 4). Visual stimuli were 1-second red light flashes (640 nm; insignificant direct ipRGC activation), followed by a 470-nm blue light, near the melanopsin peak absorption region (direct ipRGC activation). Blue flashes produce a sustained pupillary constriction (ipRGC driven) followed by baseline return, while red flashes produce faster recovery. RESULTS. Pupillary light responses to 640-nm red flash were normal in SMS patients. In response to 470-nm blue flash, SMS patients had altered sustained responses shown by faster recovery to baseline. SMS patients showed impairment in the expected melatonin production suppression during the day, confirming previous reports. CONCLUSIONS. SMS patients show dysfunction in the sustained component of the PLR to blue light. It could explain their well-known abnormal melatonin profile and elevated circulating melatonin levels during the day. Synchronization of daily melatonin profile and its photoinhibition are dependent on the activation of melanopsin. This retinal dysfunction might be related to a deficit in melanopsin-based photoreception, but a deficit in rod function is also possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-369
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • IpRGC
  • Melanopsin
  • Pupillary light reflex
  • Pupillometry
  • Retina
  • Retinohypothalamic pathway
  • Smith-Magenis syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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