Age-related changes in the daily rhythm of photoreceptor functioning and circuitry in a melatonin-proficient mouse strain

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037799. Epub 2012 May 22.


Retinal melatonin is involved in the modulation of many important retinal functions. Our previous studies have shown that the viability of photoreceptors and ganglion cells is reduced during aging in mice that lack melatonin receptor type 1. This demonstrates that melatonin signaling is important for the survival of retinal neurons. In the present study, we investigate the effects of aging on photoreceptor physiology and retinal organization in CH3-f+/+ mice, a melatonin proficient mouse strain. Our data indicate that the amplitude of the a and b waves of the scotopic and photopic electroretinogram decreases with age. Moreover, the daily rhythm in the amplitude of the a- and b-waves is lost during the aging process. Similarly, the scotopic threshold response is significantly affected by aging, but only when it is measured during the night. Interestingly, the changes observed in the ERGs are not paralleled by relevant changes in retinal morphological features, and administration of exogenous melatonin does not affect the ERGs in C3H-f(+/+) at 12 months of age. This suggests that the responsiveness of the photoreceptors to exogenous melatonin is reduced during aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Electroretinography
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / drug effects
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology*
  • Receptors, Melatonin / physiology


  • Receptors, Melatonin
  • Melatonin