Receptor in the Human Eye to Control Body’s Biological Clock
Posted: Friday, August 10, 2001
Neuroscientists at Jefferson Medical College have clarified how the human eye uses light to regulate melatonin production, and in turn, the body’s biological clock.
They have discovered what appears to be a fifth human "photoreceptor," and which is the main one to regulate the biological – and non-visual – effects of light on the body. They have identified a novel photopigment in the human eye responsible for reacting to light and controlling the production of melatonin, which plays an important role in the body’s circadian rhythms. They also discovered that wavelengths of light in the blue region of the visible spectrum are the most effective in controlling melatonin production.
"This discovery will have an immediate impact on the therapeutic use of light for treating winter depression and circadian disorders," says George Brainard, Ph.D., professor of neurology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, who led the work. "Some makers of light therapy equipment are developing prototypes with enhanced blue light stimuli. More
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