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Neurosci Lett. 2001 Feb 16;299(1-2):45-8.

Human melatonin suppression by light: a case for scotopic efficiency.

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Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 21 Union Street, Troy, NY 12180, USA.


Human adult males were exposed to combinations of two illuminances and two spectral power distributions over the course of four nighttime sessions. A dose-dependent response of acute melatonin suppression to light was found, but photopic (cone-based) illuminance did not adequately predict suppression. When melatonin suppression was plotted against scotopic (rod-based) illuminance, the data formed a nearly monotonic function, implicating rods, or a rod-dominated mechanism, in the human melatonin regulation system. The results do not, however, rule out mechanisms other than rods, including novel photoreceptors, as candidates for melatonin regulation in humans.

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