Melatonin as a chemical indicator of environmental light-dark cycle
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Melatonin is an evolutionary highly conserved molecule that plays an important role in conveying the clock and calender information to all living organisms, including man.Melatonin is synthesized in the rhythmic fashion, primarily by the pineal gland, and to a lesser degree, by extrapineal tissues - namely the retina, the Harderian gland, and the gastrointestinal tract.The rhythm of the hormone production, with maximal levels occuring at night in darkness, is generated by an endogenous circadian clock(s) and is synchronized with the photoperiodic environment to which animals are exposed.This brief outline surveys data on the regulation of rhythmic melatonin biosynthesis by a circadian pacemaker and light.Additionally, possible applications of this chronobiotic compound in agriculture and in medicine in the treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders are discussed.
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