• 6-hydroxymelatonin;
  • pineal gland;
  • seasonal rhythms;
  • demographic variables;
  • aging

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of time of year and demographic variables on the amplitude of melatonin production in normal human subjects. Melatonin production was estimated by measuring the overnight excretion of its major urinary metabolite, 6-hydroxymelatonin. Urine was collected on three consecutive nights in the summer from a sample of 60 normal subjects balanced for sex and age. The collections were repeated in a subgroup during the winter. Melatonin production clearly declined with age but was not influenced by other demographic variables or by season of the year.