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J Pineal Res. 1993 May;14(4):192-200.

The circadian nature of melatonin secretion in Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica).

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Department of Zoology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, U.K.


Plasma melatonin concentrations were measured in Japanese quail held under different photoperiods and constant darkness (< 1 lux). When subjected to LD6:18 (6 hr light: 18 hr darkness), levels rose approximately 2 hr after lights-off, attained a peak level 8 hr after lights off, and subsequently declined to low daytime levels before the next lights-on signal. This generated a distinct daily rhythm in melatonin secretion with a duration of approximately 13 h. On exposing quail to a range of photoperiods, containing 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, or 20 hr of light per day, the onset of melatonin secretion remained essentially similar with the rise occurring soon after lights-off. However, the offset of melatonin secretion was suppressed by the light of the next day and thus a much truncated rhythm was produced under long (> 12 hr) photoperiods. Importantly, between night lengths of 4 to 18 hr (i.e., LD 20:4 to LD 6:18) a linear relationship existed between the duration of night-length and secretion of melatonin with the duration increasing by about 0.8 hr for each additional hour of darkness. If quail were released into darkness following a short (LD 6:18) or long (LD 20:4) day schedule, the rhythm persisted for at least two cycles with peaks occurring at about 24 hr intervals. In those quail coming into darkness from long days (LD 20:4), the rhythm of melatonin secretion decompressed rapidly on both sides of the peak, indicating that both the onset and offset of melatonin secretion were suppressed under long days.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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