Melatonin Synthesis: Multiplicity of Regulation

  • R. J. Reiter
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 294)


N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, commonly known as melatonin, was initially thought to be synthesized exclusively in the pineal gland (Ebadi, 1984). However, subsequent examination of a variety of tissues indicates melatonin is very likely produced in the retina (Gern et al., 1978), the Harderian glands (Bubenik et al., 1976), the extra-orbital lacrimal glands (Mhatre et al., 1988), portions of the gastrointestinal tract (Vakkuri et al., 1985), and certain blood cells (Finocchiaro et al., 1988). The regulation of melatonin synthesis likely differs at these sites; the current brief survey will consider melatonin production exclusively in the mammalian pineal gland. Much of what is known concerning pineal melatonin production has been derived from studies in two species, the rat and the Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus). Thus, the current review will summarize the findings primarily from these species and the assumption will be made that the regulation of the conversion of serotonin to melatonin is similar in the pineal gland of other mammals.


Pineal Gland Syrian Hamster Harderian Gland Melatonin Production Melatonin Synthesis 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Reiter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cellular and Structural BiologyThe University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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