, Volume 45, Issue 10, pp 914–922 | Cite as

The pineal and melatonin: Regulators of circadian function in lower vertebrates

  • H. Underwood
Multi-author Review


The pineal has been identified as a major circadian pacemaker within the circadian system of a number of lower vertebrates although other pacemaking sites have been implicated as well. The rhythmic synthesis and secretion of the pineal hormone, melatonin, is suggested as the mechanism by which the pineal controls circadian oscillators located elsewhere. Both light and temperature cycles can entrain the pineal melatonin rhythm. The pineal, therefore, acts as a photo and thermoendocrine transducer which functions to synchronize internal cycle with cycles in the environment. A model is presented which portrays the pineal as a major component of a ‘multioscillator’ circadian system and which suggests how these multiple circadian clocks are coupled to each other and to cycles of light and temperature in the external world.

Key words

Pineal melatonin circadian rhythm 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Underwood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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