Synchronization of mammalian circadian rhythms by melatonin.

S. M. Armstrong, V. M. Cassone, M. J. Chesworth, J. R. Redman, R. V. Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


While pinealectomy (Px) has little effect on mammalian circadian rhythms, daily injections of the pineal hormone melatonin in rats have profound effects. These can be classified according to their effects under three categories of desynchronization: external desynchronization, internal desynchronization and phase-shift of the zeitgeber (Aschoff, 1969). Externally desynchronized rats, free-running in constant darkness (DD), can be entrained to a 24-hour regime of melatonin injection. Entrainment depends upon the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) since lesions to the SCN prevent it. Although no animal model for internal desynchronization exists, rats whose circadian rhythms are disrupted or arrhythmic in constant light (LL) are synchronized by daily melatonin injection, and the rate and direction of responses to phase-shift of the zeitgeber can be altered with daily melatonin administration. These and other results suggest melatonin may be useful therapeutically for such human desynchronizations as jet-lag and shiftwork, and preliminary data using human subjects are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-394
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission, Supplement
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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