Melatonin supplements are commonly taken as a sleep aid, but new research on zebrafish suggests that the melatonin naturally made in our brains may also be important for sleep
The larval zebrafish pineal gland, which produces the hormone melatonin, is shown in red for aanat2, a gene which is required for the natural production of melatonin, and in green for an enzyme used to ablate the pineal gland. In studying this area of the brain and the effects of blocking the natural synthesis of melatonin in this region, Caltech researchers recently showed that melatonin normally plays an important role in sleep, helping zebrafish larvae to both fall asleep and stay asleep.
Credit: Avni Gandhi/Caltech
The results of Prober’s study are published in the journal Neuron in an article titled, “Melatonin is required for the circadian regulation of sleep.” Other Caltech coauthors on the paper are graduate student Avni Gandhi and postdoctoral scholars Eric Mosser and Grigorios Oikonomou. This work was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Mallinckrodt Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation as well as a Della Martin Postdoctoral Fellowship to Mosser.