Rhythmic changes in metabolism of dopamine in the chick retina: the importance of light versus biological clock

J Neurochem. 2003 Feb;84(4):717-24. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2003.01559.x.


Rhythmic changes in dopamine (DA) content and metabolism were studied in retinas of chicks that were adapted to three different lighting conditions: 12-h light : 12-h dark (LD), constant darkness (DD) and continuous light (LL). Retinas of chicks kept under LD conditions exhibited light-dark-dependent variations in the steady-state level of DA and the two metabolites of DA, i.e. 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanilic acid (HVA). Concentrations of DA, DOPAC and HVA were high in light hours and low in dark hours of the LD illumination cycle. In retinas of chicks kept under DD, the content of DA, DOPAC and HVA oscillated in a rhythmic manner for 2 days, with higher values during the subjective light phase than during the subjective dark phase. The amplitudes of the observed oscillations markedly and progressively declined compared with the amplitudes recorded under the LD cycle. In retinas of chicks kept under LL conditions, levels of DA, DOPAC and HVA were similar to those found during the light phase of the LD cycle. Changes in the retinal contents of DA and HVA did not exhibit pronounced daily oscillations, while on the first day of LL the retinal concentrations of DOPAC were significantly higher during the subjective light phase than during the subjective dark phase. Acute exposure of chicks to light during the dark phase of the LD cycle markedly increased DA and DOPAC content in the retina. In contrast, light deprivation during the day decreased the retinal concentrations of DA and DOPAC. It is suggested that of the two regulatory factors controlling the level and metabolism of DA in the retina of chick, i.e. light and biological clock, environmental lighting conditions seem to be of major importance, with light conveying a stimulatory signal for the retinal dopaminergic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / analysis
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Chickens
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Darkness
  • Dopamine / analysis
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Homovanillic Acid / analysis
  • Homovanillic Acid / metabolism
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Periodicity*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Photoperiod
  • Retina / chemistry
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retina / radiation effects


  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Dopamine
  • Homovanillic Acid