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Circadian excretory rhythms in night workers
  1. R. T. W. L. Conroy1,
  2. A. L. Elliott,
  3. J. N. Mills
  1. aDepartment of Physiology, University of Manchester, M13 9PL


    Conroy, R. T. W. L., Elliott, A. L., and Mills, J. N. (1970).Brit. J. industr. Med.,27, 356-363. Circadian excretory rhythms in night workers. Urine samples have been collected from day and night shift workers in a light engineering factory over periods of 24 or 48 hours during which blood was also collected for determination of plasma 11-hydroxycorticosteroids (11-OHCS). Different subjects divided their 24-hour output into as few as 4 or as many as 14 portions. Where possible, the timing of the excretory rhythms was assessed objectively by fitting a sine curve. The potassium excretory rhythm was, in most subjects, well adapted to night work in that they excreted least during their hours of sleep; no relationship could be discerned between potassium excretory and plasma 11-OHCS rhythms. The sodium excretory rhythm was less regular than that of potassium in both night and day workers, and in night workers both sodium excretion and urine flow were often high during the hours of sleep, so that the subjects were sometimes awakened by the need to micturate. There was, however, sufficient association between the behaviour of sodium and potassium to suggest that their excretory rhythms have a common cause, and that this is not the secretion of 11-OHCS. Phosphate excretion fell sometimes on rising, even though plasma 11-OHCS concentration was not high, and sometimes after a high level of plasma 11-OHCS, at a time other than on rising. This suggests that these are two independent contributory causes of the usual morning fall in phosphate excretion.

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    • 1 Present address: Department of Physiology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.