Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 267, Issue 3, pp 493–498 | Cite as

Immunocytochemical demonstration of rod-opsin, S-antigen, and neuron-specific proteins in the human pineal gland

  • Shi-Kai Huang
  • David C. Klein
  • Horst-W. Korf


The aim of this study was to examine whether rod-opsin and S-antigen immunoreactions were present in the pineal organ of adult man and how these immunoreactions were correlated with neuronal markers, e.g., synaptophysin, and neurofilaments L, H and M. Three perfusion-fixed epithalamic regions including the pineal organ and five pineal glands obtained at routine autopsy were used. The specimens were taken from female or male patients, 25 to 85 years of age. All immunoreactions were performed using highly specific, well-characterized antibodies. Rod-opsin and S-antigen-immunoreactive pinealocytes occurred in all pineal organs investigated; however, the immunoreaction was restricted to small subpopulations of pinealocytes (rod-opsin immunoreaction: approximately 3%–5%; S-antigen immunoreaction: approximately 5%–10% of the total population). In contrast, immunoreactions for synaptophysin and neurofilaments M and H were present in numerous pinealocytes. Immunoreactivity for neurofilament L was not found. These data suggest that the cellular composition of the human pineal organ is heterogeneous. Moreover, the presence of rod-opsin and S-antigen immunoreactions in the human pineal organ indicates that it may be affected by autoimmune retinal diseases that are provoked by antibodies against these proteins, as is the case in rodents and non-human primates.

Key words

Pinealocytes Rod-opsin Retinal S-antigen Synaptophysin Neurofilaments Human 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shi-Kai Huang
    • 1
  • David C. Klein
    • 2
  • Horst-W. Korf
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für Anatomie und ZytobiologieJustus-Liebig-UniversitätGiessenFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Section on Neuroendocrinology, Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology, National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Zentrum der MorphologieJohann Wolfgang Goethe-UniversitätFrankfurt/Main 70Federal Republic of Germany
  4. 4.the Shanghai Institute of PhysiologyChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina

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