The Science of Nature

, Volume 75, Issue 5, pp 247–251 | Cite as

The endocrinology of sunlight and darkness

Complementary roles of vitamin D and pineal hormones
  • Walter E. Stumpf


While the term “vitamin D” can not be found in recent monographs and conference proceedings on pineal functions and while considerations of pineal hormone involvement are absent in reviews of vitamin D hormonal actions, strong evidence exists for extensive effects of the skin-vitamin D message beyond calcium metabolism and of the eye-pineal hormone actions beyond reproduction. New evidence from our histochemical studies on 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D3 sites of action, together with other reinterpreted evidence, testifies to the general importance of the skin-vitamin D and eye-pineal systems as well as to close interrelationships between these two endocrine systems. Both appear to have common targets, and effects of their messsages are antagonistic or complementary in the regulation and modulation of biological functions in tune with our solar environments.

The present concept will be illuminating for our understanding of the photobiological effects of light and related human annual cyclicity [29], involving birth rate, growth rate, carbohydrate tolerance and incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes [27], incidence of menarche, hemoglobin and hormone levels, mortality and suicide, as well as seasonal affective disorder [30]. In all of these and other seasonal conditions, the causative involvement of skin-mediated vitamin D-soltriol should be considered. Absence or presence, that is, the degree of soltriol somatotrophic activation, appears to be the most important determinant in the etiology and therapy of biological events related to light and darkness. Effects of the vitamin D-related activation through the short-wave component of light or through nutrition may be limited, however, since the darknessrelated production of pineal hormone(s) may not be eliminated by short-wave light or soltriol treatment alone. Concurrently with skin exposure to ultraviolet light or treatment with the hormone of light, the effects of the hormone of darkness may need to be curtailed by optic exposure to visible light or by treatment with an antagonist to pineal hormone.


Melatonin Endocrine System Pineal Gland Calcium Metabolism Triol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter E. Stumpf
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Cell Biology and Anatomy and of PharmacologyUniversity of North Carolina Medical SchoolChapel HillUSA

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