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Melatonin secretion in the Mashona mole-rat, Cryptomys darlingi—influence of light on rhythmicity

Vasicek, C.A., Malpaux, B., Fleming, P.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0626-3851 and Bennett, N.C. (2005) Melatonin secretion in the Mashona mole-rat, Cryptomys darlingi—influence of light on rhythmicity. Physiology & Behavior, 83 (5). pp. 689-697.

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The hormone melatonin is synthesised and secreted from the pineal gland in darkness and triggers the daily and seasonal timing of various physiological and behavioural processes. The Mashona mole-rat, Cryptomys darlingi, lives in subterranean burrows that are completely sealed and is therefore rarely, if ever, exposed to light under natural conditions. Hence, this species is of particular interest for studies on rhythms of melatonin secretion. We investigated how plasma melatonin concentrations of the Mashona mole-rat responded to exposure to a long-term standard photoperiod of 12 h light, 12 h dark (12:12 LD), constant light (LL) and constant dark (DD). In addition, we examined whether plasma melatonin concentration was coupled to locomotor activity. Mashona mole-rats displayed rhythms of plasma melatonin concentration that appeared entrained to the standard LD photoperiod, suggesting that the mole-rat is capable of perceiving and entraining to this photic zeitgeber. Furthermore, under chronic constant lighting conditions (DD, LL), circadian rhythms in plasma melatonin concentration were observed, suggesting the possible existence of an endogenous rhythm. Light suppressed melatonin secretion, but constant light did not abolish the rhythm of plasma melatonin concentration. Between active and non-active animals, no difference in plasma melatonin concentration was found for any of the sequential photoperiods (LD1 DD, LD2, LL), tentatively suggesting that the rhythm of melatonin secretion is uncoupled from that of locomotor activity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2004 Elsevier Inc.
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