Variations in the light-induced suppression of nocturnal melatonin with special reference to variations in the pupillary light reflex in humans

Akira Yasukouchi, Tadaaki Hazama, Tomoaki Kozaki

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    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of the present study was to elucidate the existence of individual differences of pupil response to light stimulation, and to confirm the reproducibility of this phenomenon. Furthermore, the relationship between the individual differences in nocturnal melatonin suppression induced by lighting and the individual differences of pupillary light response (PLR) was examined. The pupil diameter and salivary melatonin content of 20 male students were measured at the same period of time (00:00-02:30 hr) on different days, accordingly. Illumination (530 nm) produced by a monochromatic light-emitting diode (LED) was employed as the light stumilation: pupil diameter was measured with 4 different levels of illuminance of 1, 3, 30 and 600 lux and melatonin levels were measured at 30 and 600 lux (respective controls were taken at 0 lux). Oral temperature, blood pressure and subjective index of sleepiness were taken in experiments where melatonin levels were measured. Changes of the pupil diameter in response to light were expressed as PLR and light-induced melatonin suppression was expressed as a control-adjusted melatonin suppression score (control-adjusted MSS), which was compared to the melatonin level measured at 0 lux. In the PLR, the coefficients of variation obtained at 30 lux or less were large (51.5, 45.0, 28.4 and 6.2% at 1, 3, 30 and 600 lux, respectively). Correlations of illuminance of any combination at 30 lux or less were statistically significant at less than 1% level (1 vs. 3 lux: r=0.68; 1 vs. 30 lux: r=0.64; 3 vs. 30 lux: r=0.73), which showed the reproducibility of individual differences. The control-adjusted MSS at 600 lux (-1.14±1.16) was significantly (p<0.05) lower than that registered at 30 lux ( -0.22±2.12). PLR values measured at 30 and 600 lux were then correlated with control-adjusted MSS; neither indicated a significant linear relationship. However, the control-adjusted MSS showed around 0 under any of the illuminance conditions in subjects with high PLR. In control-adjusted MSS of low values (i.e., melatonin secretions were easily suppressed), subjects indicated typically low PLR. In subjects with low control-adjusted MSS (n=3), characteristic changes in the autonomic nervous system, such as body temperature and blood pressure, were noted in subjects exposed to low illuminance of 30 lux. The fact that the relationship between PLR and control-adjusted MSS portray a similar pattern even under different luminance conditions suggests that MSS may not be affected in those with high PLR at low illuminance, regardless of the illuminance condition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-121
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of physiological anthropology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Human Factors and Ergonomics
    • Physiology
    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
    • Anthropology
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Physiology (medical)


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