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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1992 May;33(6):1894-902.

Melatonin increases photoreceptor susceptibility to light-induced damage.

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Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157-1010.


Melatonin is an indolamine hormone synthesized in the retina and pineal gland. It is thought to act as a paracrine neurohormone in the mammalian retina. Pinealectomy has been shown to protect photoreceptors from light-induced damage, and melatonin treatment has been reported to increase the degree of photoreceptor damage in albino rats. To determine how melatonin influences photoreceptor survival, the effect of melatonin administration on light-induced retinal damage was studied. Melatonin was administered to albino rats by intraperitoneal injections at various times before or after light exposure. The rats were exposed to high-intensity illumination (1600 lux) for 24 hr to induce photodamage, then returned to cyclic lighting for 12 days. After this, they were killed, and their eyes were removed and examined histologically. Measurements of the outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness were taken at 12 different loci around the circumference of the retinal sections. The animals that received daily melatonin injections (100 micrograms) in the late afternoon (3 hr before lights off) for 1-3 days before photodamage showed an approximate 30% greater reduction compared with sham control animals in ONL thickness in the superior quadrant, the area most susceptible to light damage. Melatonin injections given after the photodamage did not affect ONL thickness. Although retinal susceptibility to light damage varied with time of day, the degree to which melatonin increased the degree of damage appeared unaffected by the time of day. These results suggest that melatonin may be involved in some aspects of photoreceptor sensitivity to light damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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