Aging alters many aspects of circadian rhythmicity, including responsivity to phase-shifting stimuli and the amplitude of the rhythm of melatonin secretion. As melatonin is both an output from and an input to the circadian clock, we hypothesized that the decreased melatonin levels exhibited by old hamsters may adversely impact the circadian system as a whole. We enhanced the diurnal rhythm of melatonin by feeding melatonin to young and old hamsters. Animals of both age groups on the melatonin diet showed larger phase shifts than control-fed animals in response to an injection with the benzodiazepine triazolam at a circadian time known to induce phase advances in the activity rhythm of young animals. Thus melatonin treatment can increase the sensitivity of the circadian timing system of young animals to a nonphotic stimulus, and the ability to increase this sensitivity persists into old age, indicating exogenous melatonin might be useful in reversing at least some age-related changes in circadian clock function.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology|
|Issue number||5 51-5|
|State||Published - 2002|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)