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Regulation of melatonin production and intracellular calcium concentrations in the trout pineal organ


The present in vitro study correlates measurements of the melatonin production from trout pineal organs with those of the intracellular calcium concentration in pinealocytes. Melatonin production increases with decreasing irradiance and shows maximal values in darkness. Some pinealocytes exhibit spontaneous calcium oscillations, although most of them have a stable basal calcium concentration. Diminishing extracellular calcium and enhancing magnesium reduces melatonin release in the light-and dark-adapted state. The application of Co2+ decreases melatonin secretion in the mesopic and scotopic range, reversibly blocks spontaneous calcium oscillations, reduces the basal intracellular calcium concentration in non-oscillating pinealocytes, and inhibits the KCl-induced rise in intracellular calcium. Application of glutamate, norepinephrine, isoproterenol, or dopamine has no significant effect on melatonin secretion. Norepinephrine does not influence the calcium concentration in any of the trout pinealocytes. Treatment with the GABAA-receptor agonist muscimol causes a slight reduction of melatonin release in the mesopic and scotopic range of illumination, without affecting intracellular calcium concentrations. Thus, Co2+ and low calcium/high magnesium buffer reduce melatonin release through an action on the calcium concentration in trout pinealocytes and not through a blockade of synaptic transmission. All the data show that the trout pineal organ synthesizes and releases melatonin in relation to the irradiance of the incident light and that neuronal inputs have a minor, if any, influence on melatonin synthesis.

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Received: 15 May 1996 / Accepted: 10 June 1996

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Meissl, H., Kroeber, S., Yáñez, J. et al. Regulation of melatonin production and intracellular calcium concentrations in the trout pineal organ. Cell Tissue Res 286, 315–323 (1996).

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  • Key words: Pineal organ
  • Melatonin
  • Norepinephrine
  • Calcium
  • Fura-2
  • Photoreceptor
  • Rainbow trout
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss (Teleostei)