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Int J Endocrinol. 2010;2010:829351. doi: 10.1155/2010/829351. Epub 2010 Jun 24.

The effects of red and blue lights on circadian variations in cortisol, alpha amylase, and melatonin.

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1
Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 21 Union Street, 3rd Floor, Troy, New York, NY 12180, USA.

Abstract

The primary purpose of the present study was to expand our understanding of the impact of light exposures on the endocrine and autonomic systems as measured by acute cortisol, alpha amylase, and melatonin responses. We utilized exposures from narrowband long-wavelength (red) and from narrow-band short-wavelength (blue) lights to more precisely understand the role of the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in these responses. In a within-subjects experimental design, twelve subjects periodically received one-hour corneal exposures of 40 lux from the blue or from the red lights while continuously awake for 27 hours. Results showed-that, as expected, only the blue light reduced nocturnal melatonin. In contrast, both blue and red lights affected cortisol levels and, although less clear, alpha amylase levels as well. The present data bring into question whether the nonvisual pathway mediating nocturnal melatonin suppression is the same as that mediating other responses to light exhibited by the endocrine and the autonomic nervous systems.

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