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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Mar;90(3):1311-6. Epub 2004 Dec 7.

High sensitivity of human melatonin, alertness, thermoregulation, and heart rate to short wavelength light.

Author information

1
Centre for Chronobiology, Psychiatric University Clinic, Wilhelm Kleinstr. 27, CH-4025 Basel, Switzerland. christian.cajochen@pukbasel.ch

Abstract

Light can elicit acute physiological and alerting responses in humans, the magnitude of which depends on the timing, intensity, and duration of light exposure. Here, we report that the alerting response of light as well as its effects on thermoregulation and heart rate are also wavelength dependent. Exposure to 2 h of monochromatic light at 460 nm in the late evening induced a significantly greater melatonin suppression than occurred with 550-nm monochromatic light, concomitant with a significantly greater alerting response and increased core body temperature and heart rate ( approximately 2.8 x 10(13) photons/cm(2)/sec for each light treatment). Light diminished the distal-proximal skin temperature gradient, a measure of the degree of vasoconstriction, independent of wavelength. Nonclassical ocular photoreceptors with peak sensitivity around 460 nm have been found to regulate circadian rhythm function as measured by melatonin suppression and phase shifting. Our findings-that the sensitivity of the human alerting response to light and its thermoregulatory sequelae are blue-shifted relative to the three-cone visual photopic system-indicate an additional role for these novel photoreceptors in modifying human alertness, thermophysiology, and heart rate.

PMID:
15585546
DOI:
10.1210/jc.2004-0957
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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