Effect of MR imaging on the normal human pineal body: measurement of plasma melatonin levels.
Production of melatonin, a hormone synthesized and secreted by the pineal body, has been suppressed by electromagnetic fields in some but not all animal studies. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at 1.5 T was evaluated for its ability to modulate the level of melatonin in eight male volunteers. Subjects were exposed to three conditions, respectively, between 1:00 and 2:00 AM on different nights: (a) a series of routine MR pulse sequences for brain imaging in dark conditions, (b) dark control conditions, and (c) bright-light control conditions. Plasma was analyzed for melatonin and cortisol levels. Hormonal changes were analyzed by one-factor repeated measures within-subject analysis of variance. These conditions were associated with significant differences in melatonin levels: F(2, 6) = 7.95, and P = .021. Subjects exposed to darkness showed a typical increase in melatonin concentration. Subjects exposed to bright light showed a characteristic suppression of melatonin concentration. Those exposed to the MR imaging fields showed an increase in melatonin level similar to that seen in the dark control condition. Light and MR imaging had no significant effects on cortisol levels. Thus, MR imaging at field strengths known to modulate melatonin levels in rats did not suppress melatonin production in human subjects.
Schiffman, JS; Lasch, HM; Rollag, MD; Flanders, AE; Brainard, GC; Burk, DL
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