, Volume 45, Issue 10, pp 922–932 | Cite as

Melatonin biosynthesis in the mammalian pineal gland

  • D. Sugden
Multi-author Review


Rhythmic production of melatonin by the mammalian pineal occurs in response to noradrenergic stimulation which produces a cascade of biochemical events within the pinealocyte. In the rat, massive changes in NAT activity result from an increase in intracellular c-AMP levels produced by a synergistic interaction whereby an α1 activation amplifies β-adrenergic stimulation. The intracellular events mediating this effect are described. A major aspect of the temporal control of melatonin production is the programmed down-regulation of responses to noradrenergic stimulation once the initial surge of c-AMP is produced. Noradrenergic activation of the gland also influences other enzymic functions, including tryptophan hydroxylase and HIOMT activities, and produces a dramatic increase in intracellular c-GMP levels. Other neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, e.g. VIP, may also influence pineal function and comparisons are, made between the rat, the subject of the bulk of experimental studies, and other species.

Key words

Melatonin adrenergic receptors second messengers serotonin N-acetyltransferase hydroxyndole-O-methyltransferase 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Sugden
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biomedical SciencesKing's College LondonLondon(England)

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