Monday, February 2, 2015

Melatonin is Not a Magic Pill

European hamsters showed us that there is more to
annual body rhythms than melatonin. Image by
Agnieszka Szeląg at Wikimedia Commons.
Many animals undergo seasonal physiological changes in order to ensure that their babies are born during a time of more abundant food and milder weather and to help their bodies prepare for harsh winter conditions. In order to precisely time these physiological changes with the seasons, most animals have evolved to respond to the most reliable marker for time of year, photoperiod (the number of hours of daylight in a 24-hour period).

In mammals, the hormone melatonin, produced by the pineal gland in the brain, is thought to be essential in this process of annual body rhythms.
New research finds that the real story is much more complicated. To learn more about this, read the full article at Accumulating Glitches.


Monecke, S., Sage-Ciocca, D., Wollnik, F., & Pevet, P. (2013). Photoperiod Can Entrain Circannual Rhythms in Pinealectomized European Hamsters Journal of Biological Rhythms, 28 (4), 278-290 DOI: 10.1177/0748730413498561

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