Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Abstract: Our objective was to suppress the daily surge of melatonin in serum of prepubertal dairy heifers by manipulating intensity of light (Experiment 1) and duration of exposure to light (Experiment 2). Heifers in Experiment 1 were exposed to either 12 hr of darkness (000 lux, control), or 400, 800, or 1,200 lux of light during the last 6 hr of their usual 12-hr nocturnal period. During this 6-hr exposure to various intensities of light, melatonin concentrations were similar to their respective daytime baseline values measured under 400 lux of light, but were 62% to 82% lower than melatonin concentrations during their nocturnal surge period. Suppression of melatonin concentrations was similar between 400 and 1,200 lux of light. In Experiment 2, heifers were exposed to LD 8:16, LD 16:8, LD 20:4, or LD 24:0 photoperiods (1,200 lux) for 4 months. Throughout treatment, concentrations and durations of the melatonin surge were suppressed in the LD 24:0 group and were greatest (during the nocturnal period) in the LD 8:16 group. Concentrations of prolactin in serum were elevated in animals under long days relative to LD 8:16 treatment and respective pretreatment periods. In conclusion, continuous light at an intensity of 1,200 lux suppressed the nocturnal surge of melatonin, but increased secretion of prolactin for at least 4 months in prepubertal heifers.
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