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Am J Physiol. 1999 Sep;277(3):R812-28. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1999.277.3.R812.

Organization of rat circadian rhythms during daily infusion of melatonin or S20098, a melatonin agonist.

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Neurobiologie des Fonctions Rythmiques et Saisonnières, UMR-CNRS 7518, Université Louis Pasteur, 67000 Strasbourg, France.


Daily administration of melatonin or S20098, a melatonin agonist, is known to entrain the free-running circadian rhythms of rats. The effects of the duration of administration on entrainment were studied. The animals demonstrated free-running circadian rhythms (running-wheel activity, body temperature, general activity) in constant darkness. Daily infusions of melatonin or S20098 for 1, 8, or 16 h entrained the circadian rhythms to 24 h. Two daily infusions of 1 h (separated by 8 h) entrained the activity peak within the shorter time interval. The entraining properties of melatonin and S20098 were similar and were affected neither by pinealectomy nor by infusion of 1- or 8-h duration. However, with 16-h infusion, less than half of the animals became entrained. Once entrained, the phase angle between the onset of infusion and the rhythms (onset of activity or acrophase of body temperature) increased with the duration of infusion. Before entrainment, the free-running period increased with the duration of infusion, an effect that was not predictable from the phase response curve.

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