The purpose of this investigation was to compare the effect of peptide N-terminal histidine and C-terminal isoleucine (PHI) with that of the β-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol (ISO) on JV-acetyltransferase (NAT) activity and melatonin production in the cultured rat pineal gland. Pineal glands were removed and placed in organ culture containing PHI, ISO, or PHI plus ISO at different dosages, and subsequent changes in NAT activity and melatonin levels were measured. PHI stimulated these parameters in both a time- and dose-dependent manner. Combined treatment with PHI (10-6m) and high doses of ISO (either 10-7or 10-8m) did not potentiate the effect of the peptide in terms of either NAT activity or melatonin levels in the pineal gland. However, at a lower concentration, ISO (10-9m) had additive effects to those of PHI in both cultured pineals and medium. The results suggest that PHI modulates melatonin synthesis in the rat pineal gland. Furthermore, stimulation of the pineal with both PHI and ISO demonstrates an additive effect rather than a synergistic action of these compounds. It is presumed that ISO and PHI stimulate pineal melatonin production via separate receptors, but they probably use the same intracellular second messenger, cAMP, to do so. This is the first study showing an effect of the peptide PHI on pineal melatonin production in any vertebrate.
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